The UK government announced Wednesday that its controversial porn age-verification laws will come into force on July 15.

The so-called “porn block” laws will require commercial providers of online pornography, such as PornHub’s parent company MindGeek, to verify that users are over the age of 18. Failure to do so could result in a site being blocked to UK users.

The laws have been ready to go for more than a year, with the government originally intending to introduce in April last year. It has spent the past 12 months talking to relevant industry stakeholders.

In a statement, Britain’s minister for digital Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access 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. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

Read more: Porn is being blocked across all of the UK. Here’s why people think it’s a terrible idea.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) announced that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be in charge of enforcing the new laws, and any sites that fail to comply will face “having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.”

Margot James, the UK digital minister.
Jake Kanter/Business Insider

The porn block laws have received a lot of pushback from privacy advocates, who have voiced concerns that the age-verification systems could mean huge ramifications for privacy and freedom of expression.

To calm these fears, the DCMS announced that the BBFC will offer a voluntary certification scheme, called the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will be awarded to porn providers whose age-verification systems can prove high standards of data security. In its press statement, the DCMS said the certificate has been developed in tandem with the industry and with “input” from the government.

According to a statement from BBFC Chief Executive David Austin, users will be able to tell whether a site has been awarded the certificate because it will carry a green “AV” symbol.

The UK’s biggest children’s charity, the NSPCC, stopped short of praising the announcement, hinting that the new laws will have to adapt to the ways under-18s access porn.

“We want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible and protect children from coming across sexually explicit content,” the charity said. “To accomplish this, it is crucial the rules keep pace with the different ways that children are exposed to porn online.”

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group and one of the UK’s foremost privacy campaigners, warned that the dangers of handing over sensitive information to porn providers could ruin careers or result in suicide if there are data breaches.

“What porn you watch can be very sensitive information. It’s striking that MPs don’t seem concerned, it’s not like public knowledge about watching porn has never impacted an MPs career,” he tweeted.

Read More

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here