UK online porn viewers will have to verify their age starting from next year

Anyone wishing to view porn in the UK from 2018 onwards will have to verify with websites that they are over 18 years of age before they’re allowed to access the content. The move is an attempt to make the internet a safer place for children, but critics don’t believe these controls will be very effective.

Matt Hancock MP will formally begin the process when he delivers a written statement to the House of Commons today; commenting, Hancock said:

“All this means that while we can enjoy the freedom of the web, the UK have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world.”

According to the NSPCC, a child protection agency, online porn could damage a child’s development and decision-making. The report also stated that 65% of 15-16 years old and 48% of 11-16 years olds had seen pornography. It found that 28% had accidentally encountered porn online while browsing, while 19% has purposefully looked for it.

In a statement about the new rules, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, mentioned that MindGeek, which owns Pornhub, might end up dominating (no pun intended) the age verification process with the system it has built. MindGeek is actively supporting the government's bill to introduce the measures.

“Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the UK’s porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style hacks...There is also nothing to ensure a free and fair market for age verification. We are concerned that the porn company MindGeek will become the Facebook of age verification, dominating the UK market. They would then decide what privacy risks or profiling take place for the vast majority of UK citizens.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this measure pans out in reality, with each new generation of kids getting more and more technically savvy, it won’t be surprising to see many people get around the blocks.

Source: BBC News

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