Porn will be age-blocked across the UK on July 15

Soon, you will need to prove you are 18 to access porn in the UK.

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Soon, you will need to prove you are 18 to access porn in the UK.
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ian dooley / Unsplash

  • Porn will be age-blocked across the UK on July 15 under new laws introduced by the British government.
  • The regulation will require commercial providers of online pornography, such as PornHub, to verify that users are over the age of 18.
  • Failure to do so could result in a site being blocked to UK users.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

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

The “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 enact them last April. It has spent the past 12 months talking to relevant industry stakeholders.

“Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online,” Britain’s minister for digital, Margot James, said in a statement. “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 form the age-verification systems will take is unclear, but they are expected to be stricter than simply asking users for their birthday. One proposal, for example, would have users link a login to documentation like their passport.

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would be in charge of enforcing the new laws, and any sites that fail to comply would face “having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.”

Margot James, the UK digital minister.

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

The new laws have received a lot of pushback from privacy advocates, who have voiced concerns with the ramifications that age-verification systems might have on privacy and freedom of expression.

To calm these fears, the digital ministry announced that the film-classification board would offer a voluntary certification plan, called the age-verification certificate, which would be awarded to porn providers whose age-verification systems can prove high standards of data security. In its press statement, the ministry said the certificate had been developed in tandem with the industry and with “input” from the government.

According to a statement from British Board of Film Classification CEO David Austin, sites that have been awarded the certificate 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 would 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 who is one of the UK’s foremost privacy campaigners, said handing over sensitive information to porn providers could ruin careers or even result in suicide if there were to be data breaches.

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

Killock also told Business Insider over email that the idea of an optional data security certificate is “dangerous and irresponsible.”

“Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer’s paradise – of the government’s own making. Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government’s own fault,” he said.