In Brief

Porn age checks delayed until ‘later this year’

Government says more time is needed to ‘get the policy right’

The Government has postponed plans to introduce age verification tools on pornography websites, just weeks before the controversial checks were due to be implemented. 

Under the proposed measures, which were set to come into effect in April, porn sites operating in the UK will be required to verify that visitors are over the age of 18, using ID-checking software.

The Daily Telegraph reports that users may be required to submit credit card information, or hand over “other personal data”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said yesterday that more time is needed “to get the implementation of the policy right”.

The spokesperson added that the Government still plans to make age-checking software “compulsory for commercial porn sites” and will put the policy into effect “later this year.”

The decision marks a “victory” for privacy campaigners, who have expressed concerns over criminals gaining access to private data by hacking ID-checking tools, says The Guardian

Myles Jackman, legal chief at the Open Rights Group, told the newspaper that the Government “would never be taken seriously again” if hackers accessed the data held on age-verification software. 

According to the BBC, software companies developing verification tools have not been provided guidelines by the UK authorities over what forms of ID will be required to check a user’s age. 

James Clark from Age ID, a software company working with Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek, told the BBC: “The regulations still have to go out for consultation, and be discussed and approved by Parliament.

“There are set timings for such processes, so the maths just don't seem to add up for it to be ready by April.”

6 March

Data breaches ‘inevitable’ with porn ID checks, critics warn

Pornography websites operating in the UK will be forced to employ age verification tools from next month despite warnings of potential data breaches. 

UK web users visiting porn sites will be required to confirm that they are 18 years of age or older under the Digital Economy Act. 

MindGeek, the company behind popular adult sites such as Pornhub and RedTube, announced at the weekend that it will use a secure age verification tool called AgeID to conform to the new laws, the Daily Mail reports. 

Website visitors are required to confirm their age on the free-to-use system only once, the newspaper says, and can then automatically access all websites that use the AgeID tool. 

It’s not yet known what personal information will be required to pass the age checks, but it could include submitting credit card details or a form of ID such as a driver’s licence, says The Sun

Critics are already voicing fears that users’ privacy could be at risk. Myles Jackman, legal chief of the Open Rights Group, told the BBC that MindGeek has yet to confirm where its users’ personal information will be stored but warned that a data breach is “inevitable”.

“If the age verification process continues in its current fashion, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime treasure trove of private information,” Jackman said.

“If it gets hacked, can British citizens ever trust the government again with their data?”

Despite concerns, it isn’t the first time a government has introduced age checks for porn websites.

For instance, age verification has been required on adult sites in Germany since 2015, with many German providers using AgeID, says Engadget.

Recommended

Trans sport, fragrant friends and lost data
Competitive swimming
Podcasts

Trans sport, fragrant friends and lost data

Digital innovation unpacked: the secret to business longevity
Microsoft’s panel of experts discusses the importance of innovation
Advertisement Feature

Digital innovation unpacked: the secret to business longevity

Is it possible for AI to achieve sentience?
Blake Lemoine
Today’s big question

Is it possible for AI to achieve sentience?

Sheryl Sandberg’s mixed legacy
Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg
Profile

Sheryl Sandberg’s mixed legacy

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

What happened to Logan Mwangi?
Tributes left to Logan Mwangi
Today’s big question

What happened to Logan Mwangi?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

The Week Footer Banner