Broadband News

Expect long queues at your corner shop on 15th July

Yes, 15th July 2019 has been announced as the date when Age Verification should be operational on all commercial pornography websites that people can access from a connection geo-located as in the United Kingdom.

The announcement of the firm date is on the gov.uk website and for those wanting to read more on the topic there is a BBFC ran website https://www.ageverificationregulator.com/ that providers more background, though for webmasters there seems to be a lack of information about which actual verification services are considered suitable, beyond stating that a simple enter your date of birth is not enough.

  • Porn sites must check age of users or risk facing sanctions
  • New approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline
  • Stricter measures in place to protect users’ data and privacy

The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.

It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over. The move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7-17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

Core details on Age Verification

The part about commercial providers is important, so while the big tube type sites who dominate search engine results will fall inside the rules, smaller sites with self generated content will not. There is a rule of thirds involved too on whether a site is commercial, so apps such as twitter escape since they are considered to not have more than 1/3rd of their content classified as pornography. So in terms of stopping children stumbling on pornographic video and images (remember text is excluded) it may stop some, but may just mean that rather than being a click or two away a couple more clicks are needed.

Methods for adults wanting to access pornography in the UK will involve sharing some personal data that can verify you as being over 18, e.g. credit card details, passport or buying a age id pass on the high street. All of these methods are open to abuse by children, e.g. borrowing the documents for a while or getting an older 'friend' to buy them a pass on the high street, but if the key is stop children stumbling on porn by accident it could be said that if they are using 'borrowed' details or VPN bypass mechanisms they are actively seeking out the content.

In an attempt to help the public avoid scam sites that are bound to appear to harvest personal data there is a AV symbol that sites can display, though any scam site is likely to just use the image anyway and the simplicity of the image means even if the BBFC was to reverse image search that drawing the image using toolkits rather than hosting it as a PNG or JPEG will be easy.

The more contentious area arises over the punitive action taken that will be taken against the millions of sites that are not going to comply, i.e. the BBFC has its work cut out. The intent seems to be that only the largest sites will be pursued initially and if sites fail to complain sanctions such as a fine, getting card payment processors to withdraw facilities and similar for advertising are intended to take place before the final step of adding a site to a block list.

ISPA supports the Government’s commitment to protecting child internet safety, and our members have long been at the forefront of online safety.

The new age verification measures are targeted at online pornography providers and are intended to prevent children from stumbling onto sites that contain commercial pornographic material. ISPs have an enforcement role in this policy to block websites that do not comply with these regulations and it is important to clarify that ISP blocking will only be used as a last resort. Our members are expecting high levels of compliance from online pornography providers, and it is the role of the regulator, the BBFC, to ensure that these sites remain committed to age verification.

Age verification represents a significant change to online content regulation. It is therefore important that this new policy is introduced sensibly and proportionately and that the public’s expectations are managed effectively. Our members will work collaboratively with the BBFC, providing constructive input to ensure that any challenges are swiftly addressed and the implementation of the regime is as effective as possible.

Andrew Glover, the Chair of the Internet Services Providers’ Association

The success of the Age Verification system is likely to be keenly studied as part of the Online Harms White Paper, where the short summary is that to make the UK Internet space the safest in the world it will become child friendly by default, with wider use of age verification to confirm someone is an adult accessing a service. The hardest part seems to be how to know that the person typing in personal details is actually the person who the details below to and that is a conundrum that is difficult to solve.

While parents will largely be happy with the extra hurdles put in place for accessing pornography, only time will tell what the wider reaction will be and whether the new system may just introduce teenagers to browsers such as Opera with a built-in VPN function.

Comments

"The success of the Age Verification system is likely to be keenly studied as part of the Online Harms White Paper"

Really!? I can't believe there is any level of shambles (data theft etc) thats going to make them admit this is a pointless exercise.

  • Croft12
  • 5 months ago

I suspect it will take the smarter kids 0.01 seconds to "discover" VPN's and about the same amount of time to work out how to pay for them. Given that children can legally have payment cards from the age of 10, if memory serves, this will be a no brainer.

Or of course they will use "free" services which will not protect their privacy at all.

I admire the intent but suspect, as usual, it has not been thought through properly.

  • Shadowman2013
  • 5 months ago

what a load of rubbish, it is going to make little difference to be honest. I know of a ten year old that knows about VPN.

i know it is more difficult now with mobiles, but really the parents should have more control. even before mobile phones offered what they do now, a lot of parents just dumped their kids in a room with a computer and that was it. they too k no interest in what their kids was looking at.

  • zyborg47
  • 5 months ago

@zyborg47 This isnt about stopping kids accessing porn if they really want to, as like you said a VPN is easy to set up. Its about stopping kids "accidently" finding porn when they didnt mean to. Although i doubt kids accidently stumble on porn, thats just the excuse they give to their parents when they get caught

  • bobblebob
  • 5 months ago

I think the point is, for the luddites that have computers and smart phones who simply arent tech savvy then these will be stopped by the titty filter that the government proposes. There is nothing wrong with that.

If it stops kids having a screwed up idea of what it means to have sex when they are old enough then we should be all for this.

What you have to remember is most people are thick. Some people dont even know how a bus gets wifi, they think its magic.

  • umtsboi
  • 5 months ago

The thing that really irritates me about this is that the Internet was never designed for children. It was designed for adults. If adults prevented their children having unsupervised access in the first place, there wouldn't even be a problem to fix.

Idiots worrying that children can find unsuitable content on the Internet is like sending them out to play on the motorway and then complaining it's dangerous because of the traffic.

  • Derek_S
  • 5 months ago

This is designed to fail so they can push more censorship later.

Who is seriously going to go down to their local shop to buy one or enter their ID online?

  • DrMikeHuntHurtz
  • 5 months ago

I wonder i

  • brusuth
  • 5 months ago

I wonder if it is a long term goal to crack down on VPN’s...

  • brusuth
  • 5 months ago

Frankly its about time the GOV stopped vulnerable 16 and 17 year old children from accessing online porn when they should be having Legal real sex instead.

  • Swac3
  • 5 months ago

"The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019."

Whoever said this clearly haven't looked around - South Korea have long had a great verification system for age restricted content. It's baked right into the search Engines as well as the site itself. It's also not (stupidly IMO) run by the porn sites.

  • TTTJJJ
  • 5 months ago

Ah yes, must remember to send my credit card and passport details to my favourite porn sites. Don't know why you are all so dubious about it, what could possibly go wrong?

  • mike41
  • 5 months ago

This story is based on equating age checking with the plans of Mindgeek and Portescard as opposed to those of the members of Age Verification Providers Association (From Agechecked through subsidiaries of Experian and Lexis Nexis to Yoti) for robust age checking services to protect most children without needing to give personal information to people they do not know. Of course those active and inquisitive adolescents who would previously have experimented round the bike sheds at the back of school will find ways round but that is not who the legislation is designed to protect.

  • PhilipVirgo
  • 5 months ago

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