Posted on Jul 17, 2017 by Caleb Chen

UK government to force porn sites to perform compulsory age verification, but only for UK visitors, starting April 2018


uk age verification porn

The Digital Economy Law, which mandates compulsory age verifications on pornography sites and was passed in the United Kingdom (UK) last year, will officially be rolled out in April of 2018. Starting April, online pornography sites will be forced to deploy age verification to UK visitors or be blocked by the Great Firewall of Britain. The reason for this anti-pornography move is two-fold – to defeat terrorism and to stop the corruption of the youth. It has been clarified that the new law only applies to commercial pornography sites, and social media sites like Reddit that are often used as sources of pornography would not be subject to compulsory age verification (for now).

The UK government will require “id checks” for age verification on porn sites starting in 2018

The government’s timeline for the implementation of UK-wide age verification on commercial pornography sites has been called “unrealistic” by some. Many people also have also questioned the technicals of how this blanket age verification will be enforced. Chatter surrounding the implementation of the age verification suggests it may be done through the collection of credit card numbers or perhaps ID numbers. At the end of the day, it’ll be up to the still-to-be-formed regulatory body to oversee this. What’s clear is that this government action is unlikely to have the desired effect. Some have pointed out that eight months is too little time to form a working regulatory body to oversee all of this. Dr. Victoria Nash, who was part of a team commissioned by the government to study the upcoming regulation, commented to the BBC:

“The idea you can get a regulatory body up and running in that timeframe seems extraordinary to me. And while I don’t have a problem with asking these companies to act responsibly, I don’t see it as a solution to stopping minors seeing pornography.”

We won’t know until later in the autumn who the members of this regulatory body are and just how involved the existing anti-pornography and pro-censorship regulatory body, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), will be. The BBFC is already responsible for blocking pornography websites that don’t follow the UK’s rules.

Already, many internet users in the U.K. have to also take the additional step of contacting their ISP and letting the company know that they wanted to turn off the adult filter just to access non adult websites. What is really brewing here, that has privacy advocates around the world worried, is that the government is building a database of internet users – or mandating that users store sensitive information with third party commercial porn providers, some of which don’t use https. It’s a slippery slope towards a censored internet controlled by the government; furthermore, as usual, “think of the children” is used as a way to squeeze more control over this inherently open technology all while building the Great Firewall of Britain.

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About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master's in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor's from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.


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  • HolyBananas

    the uk is killing the porn industry. They already imposed global standards on all major porn sites. There are certain terms now that if you search them on porn sites will yield zero results because of these uk laws. It’s just easier for them to globally block it then to filter there content for 1 country.

  • mark

    I suspect that in practice a major site like Reddit wouldn’t be affected, but you can bet it’ll be applied more widely than what we think of us commercial porn sites (e.g., consider BDSM social networking site Fetlife).

    Why are kids getting access to unrestricted Internet in the first place? Filtering should be client side to avoid all this rubbish.