Jump to content

Porn sites must age-verify British users starting July 15


Karlston

Recommended Posts

Sites that don't verify age could get blocked by British ISPs.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Brussels on April 11, 2019.
Enlarge / British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Brussels on April 11, 2019.

The United Kingdom's ban on underage access to porn will take effect on July 15, the government announced on Wednesday.

 

"Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online," Digital Minister Margot James said. "We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this."

 

The government is implementing the terms of the Digital Economy Bill that passed the UK parliament in 2017. Under the law, commercial porn sites will be required to verify that a British user is over the age of 18 before allowing him or her to access pornographic material. British censors will also have the power to ban "extreme" online pornography, which includes some types of violent sexual content as well as content that involves sex acts with corpses or animals.

 

The scheme will be overseen by the British Board of Film Classification, the quasi-private organization that gives official ratings to movies in the UK. In its statement announcing the new rules, the body argued that young people's easy access to online pornography is "changing the way young people understand healthy relationships, sex and consent." The group says that 88 percent of British parents with children ages 7 to 17 favor age restrictions for pornography.

 

Rather than mandating a specific form of age verification, the BBFC offers some general guidelines and lets sites choose options that fit the criteria. The most common approaches are likely to involve asking the user for a credit card number or information from a government-issued ID. Sites may also come up with methods for developing age verification using a smartphone.

 

Notably, the Digital Economy Bill does not include privacy regulations to ensure that porn sites don't misuse information users provide under age-verification schemes. However, sites would be governed by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, providing some safeguards against misuse of the data.

Sites that don’t age-verify get blocked by UK ISPs

The mandate applies to porn sites globally. Sites that fail to comply with the rules will be put on an official blacklist of non-compliant porn sites. British ISPs will be required to block access to these sites, and payment processors will be required to deny them payment services.

 

Early versions of the Digital Economy Bill took a different approach, slapping fines on porn site operators who didn't comply with the age verification regime. The problem with that was that many non-British porn sites might simply ignore these fines. So the legislation was amended to block British users from accessing the sites altogether. This could give regulators some leverage over these sites, since the larger ones presumably do want their content and services to be available to British adults.

 

Still, it's an open question how effective the law will be. The law only applies to sites that are primarily in the business of distributing pornography commercially. Mainstream social media sites with significant pornographic content—like Reddit and Twitter—won't be required to age-verify their users. That could mean it's still fairly easy for minors to find pornographic content online.

 

And then there are the many ways teens might find to evade the filters. Virtual private networks can disguise a user's true location, causing sites to assume that no age verification is required. And restricting teens' access to commercial pornography providers could push them into the world of online piracy, where they can get porn videos from locker sites or file-sharing networks.

 

Advocates for the law don't dispute that some users—including some minors—will figure out ways to get around the new filters. But they argue that many others won't have the inclination or technical savvy to do so, significantly reducing the number of minors exposed to pornography (and of adults exposed to "extreme" pornography).

 

Source: Porn sites must age-verify British users starting July 15 (Ars Technica)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Replies 7
  • Views 378
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Ah yes, we do need the government to protect us from the evils of sexual intercourse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


on a local pc meetup with kids from 14 up 30 ten years ago.

the 14 year old had way more than all the other together.

 

as my british friend would say if there is a will there is a way.

 

they say over 60% of internet traffic is porn nowadays and

more and more are girls.

 

anyone here old enough to remember the clean but naked

scanmaster era? 😃

Link to comment
Share on other sites


The AchieVer

Why the UK's porn block will backfire spectacularly

Opinion: Censorship won't stop teens from bypassing age checks and will only show up the lawmakers behind the changes.

 
 
 
5a1eea5d60b22a5bc67ef47b-1280x7201dec042
 

It was expected, sooner or later. 

On Wednesday, the UK government confirmedthat an age check and ID verification scheme will come into effect for pornographic websites on 15 July.

Likely met with many eye rolls across the region -- both young and old -- from July, if you are a visitor from the UK to a porn website these domains will be responsible for checking that you are over 18, the legal age for viewing adult content.

 

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the regulator for film ratings in the UK, is overseeing the effort. 

Failure to comply may result in Internet Service Providers (ISPs) being forced to block pornography providers entirely and the government has also threatened the potential loss of payment services,

figuring that hitting commercial websites in the wallet would bring the lesson home.

The BBFC told ZDNet that in these cases, the organization would "request that they [search engines and payment providers] withdraw services to a non-compliant website." (In other words, they cannot force the issue but rather make a request).

The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said that such checks will be "vigorous" and simply ticking a birthday box will not be enough.

Instead, scanned copies of ID such as a passport, driving license, or credit cards can be used for verification. Failing that, you can wander red-faced into a newsagent and buy what has been dubbed a "porn pass" -- a verification system passed on from porn vendor to your friendly neighborhood shopkeeper.

There is a stereotype floating around the UK which relates to teenagers hanging around outside such establishments in the quest to find someone over 18 years old to buy cigarettes or alcopops for them. While it is likely going to be tougher to find an adult willing to buy a porn pass on their behalf in the same way, there are many alternative ways for teens to access porn, should they wish to.

Websites impacted by the new rule must have one-third or more of its content dedicated to pornography, so forums and generic content-sharing platforms -- such as Reddit, Imgur, and Gfycat -- are free from the new rules and can be perused at leisure for pornography links. Non-commercial and artistic websites are also exempt.

 

The main way to circumvent the block, however, is through what is known as a virtual private network (VPN). The porn blockage is based on location, and so these systems, available on both a free and subscription basis, will be able to bypass the geofencing of restricted content.

 

Government officials may think that implementing a geoblock and connected ID verification check on pornography websites is a way to protect kids, but in reality, the teenagers who are meant to be "protected" against this material are the same ones which have grown up with such technologies their entire lives and are, in many cases, far more familiar with technology than our lawmakers appear to be.

 

People my age had brick telephones which could survive an apocalypse and remember the outraged roar of our parents as we used dial-up and subsequently clogged the phone line. 

Today's kids have been able to access whatever content they wish on YouTube from the toddler stage; they set up and run their own social media channels, the same kids provide IT support for their folks; and these are the same ones that have grown up with the wide-open gate of the internet, smartphones, tablets, and high-speed broadband.

 

They are not going to be stopped by an ill-thought-out, location-based verification check which can be bypassed in a few clicks.

 

This scheme will not make the UK the "safest place in the world to be online," as Minister for Digital Margot James has proclaimed.

 

It will, instead, backfire and teach the UK's kids the early joys of VPNs, the means to circumvent surveillance and enter the Internet underworld through Tor, and will introduce them rapidly to the concept of censorship -- as well as how to avoid it. (Given the UK's click-a-link terrorism prosecution goals, this may not be a bad thing for the future workforce.)

On the other side of the coin, yes, it is too easy for children to stumble across inappropriate content online -- although "inappropriate" and what constitutes a porn website are up for debate. You may see spam accounts across Facebook and Twitter occasionally that post crude porn videos, but it does take some effort to end up at a porn website by accident.

 

"One of the biggest issues for the adult industry is an equal application of the law," Corey Price, VP of Pornhub told ZDNet. "There are over 4 million domains containing adult content and unless sites are enforced against equally, stumbling across adult content will be no harder than at present. If the regulator pursues a "proportionate" approach we may only see the "Top 50" sites being affected – this is wholly unacceptable as the law will then be completely ineffective, and simply discriminate against compliant sites."

 

Pornography, too, is fantasy and does not generally reflect what otherwise occurs in many healthy relationships and can give young adults the wrong idea. But pretending it doesn't exist or restricting access to it doesn't help those who will access it given the mind to.

 

Instead of creating blanket blocks which impact not only kids but citizens at large -- many of which are perfectly adjusted adults that might enjoy watching porn without letting their newsagents know -- why are the funds the government has wasted on this nonsensical bill not being spent on sex education, which is sorely lacking and stringently biological in our schools instead?

 

If you truly want to protect kids, you give them the knowledge required to cope with living in a digital world. You don't have to explain every facet of online pornography but you should make it clear what is fantasy, what is acted, and what generally happens in reality. 

 

Cutting off access to pornography resources simply won't work, in the same way that putting adult magazines on the top shelf hasn't stopped them getting into the hands of teenagers. It will take your average twelve-year-old who has looked up a VPN on Google minutes to circumvent such blocks, and in the same way that these teens in the past would stash porn rags under the bed, they won't be prevented in their curiosity.

Our society is not PG rated. Sex sells everything from beauty products to house equity release, it's plastered on our magazines, in adverts, and down the high street.

 

The wish to protect UK kids -- with between a third and a half having sex before they reach 16 -- from adult content is admirable, but not achievable. 

If your average consumer now begins to use a VPN to access pornography rather than hand over their personal details and give vendors a record of their pornographic interests and ID -- sent with a prayer that the vendor will never become a victim of a data breach -- ISP blockages will not even be noticed.

 

The UK government wants to be seen to be doing something about the over-sexualization of young kids, as well as the impact social media and the web at large has on their lives and mental well-being.

But wrapping up the present of censorship in a safety bow, proclaiming that blocks -- and not innovation -- make the UK a world leader in internet safety, is simply wrong. 

Protecting children through other means, such as frank discussions with parents, improved and realistic sex education in schools, and kid-friendly content such as the UK police forces' brilliant explainer on consent via cups of tea is where we should be spending our time, money, and energy.

 

The announcement was also keen to emphasize the results of a recent study (.PDF) conducted by YouGov for the BBFC which proclaims that "88 percent of parents with children aged 7-17 agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online."

 

The sample size was 6339 adults, of which 996 are parents of 7 to 17-year-olds. However, 878 parents across the breadth of the UK does not a country-wide opinion make. 

 

 The adoption of these checks may be one small step taken on a longer path to censorship in the United Kingdom. You have to wonder whether VPN blocks, proposed in the name of child safety, will be the next step.

 

The UK's government is the author of the famous Snooper's Charter, and so such a future is not unrealistic. However, it does have far more implications for general security, privacy, and freedom of expression.

 
Link to comment
Share on other sites


Are you kidding me?! Yeah, they've thought up some terrific verification methods - give a random porn site your credit card number, sure, why not? That, coming from the country that doesn't mandate that citizens must have an ID!

 

I'm not sure what's happened to Britain. It's like the entire political structure is inhabited by Teletubbies. Geo blocks? Why not a lovely nation-wide firewall to bolster the geo blocks, too? You know, so the children never get exposed to anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


As if the government doesn't have better things to think about! What a waste of time.

 

Everything I read about our government makes me that little bit more ashamed to be associated with this country.

 

A lot of what's in the news though is just diversion from the far more important stuff that they don't want us to think about. They have to give the media something else to tell us and convince the sheeple that ministers are earning their expenses.

 

(Not a political statement... just how government works when it's become completely detached from its people. Ours, at least.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...