The British government has moved to ban anyone under 18 from accessing porn sites as of April next year.

The porn ban, passed by the House of Commons on Monday (December 17), will affect anyone using a British IP address who cannot prove their age through official documents like a driving licence, credit card or age verification card bought at a shop, according to the Metro.



This block on under-18 viewers was included in the Digital Economy Act 2017, but was delayed by the government in March 2018 to give the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) time to implement the new rules.

A woman uses her laptop while holding a credit card
Porn viewers will have to prove their age through documents like driving licences, credit cards or an age verification card (Pexels)

MindGeek, a porn giant which owns sites like Pornhub, YouPorn, Brazzers and Men.com, has indicated it will use its AgeID system to follow the new law, which could see porn sites blocked or fined as much as £250,000 if they don’t comply.

Stuart Lawley, CEO of AVSecure—which will provide another age identification service, AgePass—said he expected the law to be in place by mid-April 2019.

He added: “The BBFC will look at the methods age verification systems use to verify people are 18, so for instance, a name and address wouldn’t be enough—but a scan of a driving licence or a credit card and CVV number would be OK.”

Activists support porn block

Organisations including the NSPCC have praised the move, explaining that it will help tackle the problem of children watching porn at a young age.

NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online, Andy Burrows, told PinkNews that “every year the NSPCC’s Childline hears from children as young as 11 worried about pornography, and we know that exposure to it is damaging young people’s views about sex, body image and healthy relationships.”

However, he said that the government‘s new law did nothing to stop children viewing adult content on social media.

“While age verification laws will make the UK a world leader in shielding children from this harm, they won’t protect them from what they see on social networks,” said Burrows.

“It isn’t acceptable that some sites pay lip service by banning pornographic content, then don’t enforce their own rules.

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“So we also need robust regulation of social networks, with fines if they fail to protect children from seeing pornography or other harmful content.”

Flaws and issues with porn block

Porn is available to some degree on many different social media platforms, none of which are under the control of the BBFC.

“The law is not watertight.”

— Margot James, the minister for online safety

Margot James, the government minister for online safety, has told BBC Newsbeat that the law was “not watertight. We do have issues with some social media platforms.

“We’re taking the view that if the main purpose of a social media platform is completely other than pornographic, for the time being we are not going to subject them to the same requirements.”

Other activists have claimed that age identification companies having a large bank of data which link names with their driving licences and credit card details could expose adult porn viewers’ habits.

Some have suggested that information about who watches gay and lesbian porn could be used to out users or to blackmail them.

There are also numerous easy ways to access porn without providing proof of age, for instance through a free VPN service which shows your IP address as being located in a different country.

And if someone under the age of 18 gets hold of an adult’s personal details, they could pass that information around a group of friends and all use it to access adult sites.




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