We’re now into April, which means that the government’s new “age verification” system is in place, all with the aim of preventing under age people from accessing pornographic content.
Section 14 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 creates new requirements for service providers to prevent access by under 18s, which means it’s no longer as simple as “stumbling” across a site by typing something into Google.
Section 14 defines “pornographic material” as anything which has an “R18” films certificate, anything which should have an R18 certificate and:-
Any other material if it is reasonable to assume from its nature –
- That it was produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal, and
- That any classification certificate issued in respect of a video work including it would be an 18 certificate.
The section applies to video, film, with or without sound, still images, with or without sound, or just sound.
Section 23 gives powers to the “age – verification regulator” to require Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to material.
The regulator in this case is the British Board of Film Classification.
In practise, this means that if you want to view X rated websites you are going to have to verify your age.
There’ll be different ways of doing this, from acquiring a “porn pass” from a newsagent or ISPs requiring a scan of a passport or driving license or directing you to a page which requires credit card details.
And they’re not messing around – enforcement is by civil court proceedings and I understand the government has set aside a fighting fund of £10 million to deal with defences.
If you are accessing this type of material be mindful that in 2012, for example, YouPorn had 1,327,567 compromised data accounts.
How do I feel about this personally? I don’t see how all of this is going to work.
I understand children are experienced at using Virtual Private Network accounts, which can hide where you are in the world.
Can we regulate what connections the websites will accept?
Will this push children towards “VPNs” and the “dark web” and have the opposite effect?
How will the ISPs cope with European GDPR? Lots of questions, and no clear answers.
We’ll keep an eye out for how this progresses and will report on it when we’ve got more information.