Online Porn Ban Delayed Until Later This Year

The government’s plan to introduce age checks on porn websites has now been pushed back. The changes, were aimed at stopping children from accessing inappropriate adult content, were supposed to come into effect imminently.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the commencement date will be confirmed “shortly”, although there had been reports that the law would be implemented as of the 1st of April.

The result of this change will be that people wishing to access adult content will be forced to complete age checks, including uploading personal identification documents, such as a driving licenses or passports, before they can access adult sites.

The system will also require users to verify their email address in order to ensure future access. Some sites will also be offering a ‘porn pass’ that will be available to purchase from local shops.

After the move, whenever you visit a porn site that uses age checks, a landing page will be displayed. Some sites already have a landing page which asks users to verify that they are 18 or over, but anyone can click these buttons as verifications isn’t needed.

The change has been pushed for by those in government who believe the content is available too freely, with Digital Minister Margot James claiming the content is “too easy” for children to access.

The move has been a long time coming; the UK government has been attempting to impose restrictions on access to porn since 2015. Now that all of the necessary legal measures have been imposed, the implementation of the ‘porn block’ is imminent.

 The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), who classifies all movies that are available in the UK, will be in charge of regulating age verification.

However, critics of the identification rule say that it could have serious implications for online privacy. The move would essentially create a database of viewers’ tastes in porn, which would give hackers potential access to a huge amount of sensitive information. Pornhub had 64 million visitors per day in 2017, and the UK is its second largest traffic driver.

A recent YouGov poll of 1,769 British people revealed that over half were pornography users. Of those polled, 76% were unaware of the upcoming restrictions.

A significant two thirds approved of the measures, but only 34% believed the age restrictions would actually be effective. There are millions of porn sites available, so it will be difficult for the government to restrict all of them. As the age restrictions only apply to the UK, anyone with a VPN, which can make it seem like you’re accessing the web from another country, can get around the rule.

Some say that blocking porn will only encourage illegal behaviour in youngsters, by pushing them towards streaming sites full of malware, and towards the ‘dark web’ where they can buy credit card details (it seems that the age verification system may also involve credit cards).

The government’s own impact assessment admits that “Adults (and some children) may be pushed towards using ToR and related systems to avoid age verification, where they could be exposed to illegal and extreme material”.

When the restriction will be imposed, and its ultimate impact, remains unforeseen.

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