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Thread: UK to introduce age verification checks for pornographic websites

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    Wayne's Avatar
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    by » Fri April 19th, 2019, 17:36



    UK to introduce porn age-checks in July

    An age-check scheme designed to stop under-18s viewing pornographic websites will come into force on 15 July.

    From that date, affected sites will have to verify the age of UK visitors.

    If they fail to comply they will face being blocked by internet service providers.

    But critics say teens may find it relatively easy to bypass the restriction or could simply turn to porn-hosting platforms not covered by the law.

    Twitter, Reddit and image-sharing community Imgur, for example, will not be required to administer the scheme because they fall under an exception where more than a third of a site or app's content must be pornographic to qualify.

    Likewise, any platform that hosts pornography but does not do so on a commercial basis - meaning it does not charge a fee or make money from adverts or other activity - will not be affected.

    Furthermore, it will remain legal to use virtual private networks (VPNs), which can make it seem like a UK-based computer is located elsewhere, to evade the age checks.

    The authorities have, however, acknowledged that age-verification is "not a silver bullet" solution, but rather a means to make it less likely that children stumble across unsuitable material online.

    "The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content," said the Minister for Digital Margot James.

    "We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this."

    Call to action

    It had originally been proposed that pornographic services that refused to carry out age checks could be fined up to £250,000. However, this power will not be enforced because ministers believe the threat to block defiant sites will be sufficient and that trying to chase overseas-based entities for payment would have been difficult.

    However, the government has said that other measures could follow.

    "We know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children," a spokesman for the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the BBC.

    "If we do not see action then we do not rule out legislating in the future to force companies to take responsibility for protecting vulnerable users from the potentially harmful content that they host."

    The age checks were originally proposed by the now defunct regulator Atvod in 2014 and were enacted into law as part of the the Digital Economy Act 2017. But their rollout had been repeatedly delayed.

    UK-hosted pornographic video services already have to verify visitors' ages, as do online gambling platforms.

    'Porn passes'

    The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) - which gives movies their UK age certificates - will be responsible for regulating the effort. It will instruct internet providers which sites and apps to block for non-compliance. In addition, it can call on payment service providers to pull support, and ask search engines and advertisers to shun an offending business.

    The pornographic platforms themselves will have freedom to choose how to verify UK visitors' ages.

    But the BBFC has said that it will award solutions that adopt "robust" data-protection standards with a certificate, allowing them to display a green AV (age verification) symbol on their marketing materials to help consumers make an informed choice.

    One digital rights campaign group questioned the sense of this scheme being voluntary.

    "Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer's paradise - of the government's own making," said Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group.

    "Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government's own fault."

    Mindgeek, one of the adult industry's biggest players, has developed an online system of its own called AgeID, which it hopes will be widely adopted. It involves adults having to upload scans of their passports or driving licences, which are then verified by a third-party.

    It has said that all the information will be encrypted and that the AgeID system will not keep track of how each users' accounts are used.



    High street stores and newsagents will also sell separate age-verification cards to adults after carrying out face-to-face checks, according to the government.

    Dubbed "porn passes" by the media, the idea is that users would type in a code imprinted on the cards into pornographic websites to gain access to their content.

    The BBFC has said it will also create an online form for members of the public to flag non-compliant sites once the new regulations come into effect.

    "We want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible," commented the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

    "To accomplish this, it is crucial the rules keep pace with the different ways that children are exposed to porn online."

    The age checks form part of a wider effort by the UK's authorities to make the internet safer to use for young people.

    Most recently, DCMS proposed the creation of a new regulator to tackle apps that contain content promoting self-harm and suicide, among other problems.

    In addition, the Information Commissioner's Office has proposed services stop using tools that encourage under-18s to share more personal data about themselves than they would do otherwise.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47960775
    We poor UK folks...

    So, basically - from July onwards:

    1. Sites in which more than 1/3 of the content is pornographic will have to introduce age verification checks.
    2. It is likely then that these sites will store these age verification checks in a database (it's not clear what data they'll need to store - but it'll likely be date of birth, name, location etc).
    3. Sites that don't comply with these checks will be blacklisted by the ISPs and face fines of up to £250,000.

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 00:19

    I agree with it to an extent. But the verification thing is just stupid - who is going to pop to the newsagents and ask for an age verification card? You might as well just say to the person behind the counter, “Morning, just a pint of milk and a porn pass ta”

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 00:31

    Porn is a healthy outlet. The government should focus on sorting the Brexit mess out over this.

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 00:44

    If kids need more protection from porn then it should be left to the parents to do more, not the government, it just means more hassle for everyone else.

    To be honest, when I was about 12 we found my friends older brothers porno tape and we all watched it and we all found it quite amusing, I don't think it did me any harm, yeah I'm not saying kids should be encouraged to watch porn, but I would certainly think there are bigger things to worry about with kids such as knife crime and suicide.

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 00:57

    Quote Originally Posted by SholasBoy View Post
    If kids need more protection from porn then it should be left to the parents to do more, not the government, it just means more hassle for everyone else.

    To be honest, when I was about 12 we found my friends older brothers porno tape and we all watched it and we all found it quite amusing, I don't think it did me any harm, yeah I'm not saying kids should be encouraged to watch porn, but I would certainly think there are bigger things to worry about with kids such as knife crime and suicide.
    The problem is most under 18s now have mobiles and data packages: it’s a bit different to the days when you had to physically buy porn - kids are carrying the means to access it in their pockets.

    This action doesn’t stop those determined to find porn online. But you’d hope most under 16s shouldn’t need to know how a VPN even works. But should a 14 year old have access to look up whatever they want?

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 12:20

    With phones though, it's possible to enable parental controls - the network provider then doesn't allow access to restricted sites.

    This will all be very interesting, I agree that it should be for parents to exert the greatest control over things such as this.

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    by » Sat April 20th, 2019, 23:03

    It's been long overdue. A child is unable to view/purchase pornography in a retail environment and the internet should be exactly the same. I don't understand this 30% rule though? Surely age verification should occur if there's any pornography present whatsoever? It seems like this is a loophole that is bound to get exploited. Also, why stop at porn? There are tons of graphic violent videos available on platforms which should have no place on the internet.
    Last edited by ludichris; Sat April 20th, 2019 at 23:05.

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    by » Sun April 21st, 2019, 10:22

    Quote Originally Posted by ludichris View Post
    It's been long overdue. A child is unable to view/purchase pornography in a retail environment and the internet should be exactly the same. I don't understand this 30% rule though? Surely age verification should occur if there's any pornography present whatsoever? It seems like this is a loophole that is bound to get exploited. Also, why stop at porn? There are tons of graphic violent videos available on platforms which should have no place on the internet.
    Websites will still have to exercise their duty of care and place age restrictions on pages where there is adult content - that's no different to now - but the 30% rule will cover off sites like Twitter or Tumblr where you may stumble across some adult content but it isn't the sole purpose of the site (and I'm sure you're not professing that someone should have a "porn pass" for accessing Twitter).

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    by » Sat April 27th, 2019, 10:39

    Ridiculous.

    I am not convinced that data will be protected properly. Not to mention that people will just turn to other outlets for pornography. Placing more restrictions on stuff like this just forces more people to go underground with more unhealthy ways.

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    by » Sun April 28th, 2019, 02:59

    This ranks high on the scale of pointlessness.
    You can search the entire universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than you.

    Akini's Top 100 Drag Race Queens: [70-61]

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