Age Verification system for adult video content delayed
The Age Verification (AV) system have been delayed (or maybe even abandoned) with just under 4 weeks to go before they were due to be a legal requirement.
The plan was to force adults wanting to access online pornographic content to verify their that they were 18 or older before being allowed to access content. The move has been controversial because of worries around forcing people to share personal information with third parties online and the risk that this could lead to future database leaks revealing what people watch in the privacy of their own homes.
The new law was meant to come into play on the 15th July 2019 but after previous delays due to technical and logistic reasons it is now delayed because as we understand it someone forgot to notify the EU formally and that breaks the legal basis for the move.
For those that worry about children stumbling onto pornographic content accidentially this delay will be a blow, but it for families concerned there are a wide range of tools available to police online content viewing in the home. The ease of bypassing these controls was one of the reasons for implementing the new AV sytem but it was expected that many would bypass the AV by the use of a virtual private network or simply visiting a site that has not implemented the measures and was not yet large enough to worry the BBFC and get added to the great UK firewall.
Hopefully we will get some idea of the date the AV system will reappear once a full statement has been made by the Culture Secretary, but we have to wonder whether we may see legal challenges for costs incurred by those who have worked to implement systems to ensure they would have been legally compliant on 15th July 2019. Though we suspect that beyond the work of BBFC we suspect the vast majority of sites have done nothing waiting to see what actually happens and what actual options for AV systems they can use.
Whether the 15th July would have happened if the UK had left the EU on 31st March is unclear, as there is a transitional period that should follow any actual exit from the EU. One possibility is that the implementation may be put on hold until the Brexit process has been concluded.