Porn Sites In The U.K. To Introduce Age Checks From July

Pedestrian walks by an adult store in New York
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A report from the BBC says that sites in the United Kingdom which feature pornography will be introducing age-checks in July in an attempt to prevent users under 18-years-old from viewing them. Websites where more than a third of its content is considered porn will be punished with a £250,000 penalty — around $326,000 — if they fail to comply.

However, under this rule, sites such as Reddit and Twitter will not have to adhere, as they fall under a different category. As well as this, sites which host porn but do not charge a fee or make money from it will also not have to abide by the rule. The report also says that accessing pornography via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will not be considered illegal.

Critics are concerned that underage users may still be able to go around the new law.

U.K. Minister for Digital Margot James has said that this new ruling is a “world-first” and will look to “balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content.”

“We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this,” she said, as quoted by BBC.

A young boy is shown using a tablet device
  Nadine Doerlé / Pixabay

However, authorities admit that this will not be a foolproof solution to the issue, but will instead be a way of making it more difficult for children to access adult content and less likely for them to stumble upon it.

The British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) — the U.K. equivalent of the ESRB — will be overseeing the new regulation by instructing internet service providers on which websites and mobile apps will need to be blocked. They will also be creating an online form which will allow internet users to report any sites which are not complying with the law.

MindGeek — a Canadian company that has a focus on online pornography — has developed a method of checking ages online with a tool called AgeID, a single-sign on which provides access to an independent third party age verification platform.

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“The user chooses an age verification option from a list of 3rd party providers. The options available include Mobile SMS, Credit Card, Passport, or Driving License,” according to an AgeID spokesperson.

Amid concerns that third-party companies will have access to people’s personal information, MindGeek has said that all data processed will be encrypted and it will not keep track of how an account is used.

Retail outlets on the high street will also be getting in on the act. They will be selling age-verification cards — known as “porn passes” — which will contain a code to allow access to pornographic sites.

The U.K. government also said that further measures could follow.