In Depth

Porn ID checks to begin in April 2018

Legislation could require users to enter credit card information to access online sites

Age verification will become mandatory for pornography websites from April 2018, reports the BBC.  

The deadline for the checks, which are being introduced to protect under-18s, was "revealed as digital minister Matt Hancock signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Act", which requires websites publishing pornography accessible in the UK "on a commercial basis" to provide ID checking software. 

A regulator will also check the identification systems are in place, says Alphr. It's not yet know who the watchdog is, but it "is believed to be the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)" - an organisation that provides age restrictions for TV shows, films and video games in the UK.

If a website fails to install age-verifying measures, they "face being banned in the UK", The Independent says. 

"Sex websites could require users to provide details from their credit card, which cannot be legally issued anyone under 18," continues the paper, adding that gambling websites use a similar system.

The move has the support of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which told the Daily Telegraph that online pornography could be "deeply damaging" for young viewers. 

However, Open Rights Group says storing personal data may allow porn companies to build "databases" on users' habits and could make them vulnerable to hackers. 

Dr Victoria Nash, the author of a report analysing pornography viewing habits among young people, told the BBC: "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.

"It may make it harder for children to stumble across pornography, but it will do nothing to stop determined teenagers." 

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