Online porn age verification checks to take effect in the UK from this summer | UK News

Age verification checks for online pornography will come into force on 15 July, the government has announced.

Simply ticking a box or entering a date of birth will no longer be enough under the new rules, which are designed to prevent children from accessing explicit material.

Instead, users may have to provide their bank details or purchase a card in stores to gain access.

The law, which passed in January but was delayed while the government worked out some kinks, covers any website that is “more than one-third pornographic” – meaning the likes of Twitter and reddit are exempt.

Pornhub at the 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Websites such as PornHub have agreed to implement the age checking measures

Digital minister Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. 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.”

The law will be enforced by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which is already responsible for giving mainstream movies their age ratings.

It will introduce a new green AV symbol to let consumers know whether age-verification providers are safe.

Websites that do not offer such technology could have payment services withdrawn and face being completely blocked in the UK.

A person uses a laptop keyboard. File picture
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The measures are designed to protect minors

The government claimed that 88% of parents with children aged between seven and 17 backed the move, but academics and technology experts have warned the measures will not guarantee protection for minors.

The law has also prompted fears over surveillance, cyber security, and blackmail.

Jim Killock, director of campaigners at Open Rights Group, told Sky News earlier this year: “This could go horribly wrong, exposing people to blackmail, fraud and career-damaging data leaks.

“It seems we may be heading for a voluntary box ticking exercise to persuade people that they are safe when they are not. The government will bear responsibility if and when things go wrong.

“At this point, we should be very worried.”

People who want to keep accessing online porn but do not want to go through the process of verifying their age will likely turn to virtual private networks (VPNs) instead.

VPNs are a privacy technology that allow users to tunnel their internet communications through a third party, which can trick their device into thinking it is accessing the internet from a different location.

One popular use-case is accessing international versions of Netflix.

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