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UK Forces Reviving Mandatory Age Verification For Adult Content

Key Highlights:

  • The UK’s initiative is a means of reviving the scheme deemed unworkable since 2015
  • It will be introduced in the forthcoming online safety bill
  • Its still full of same problems which rendered it unworkable in 2015

Examined Under Umbrella of Online Harms

In a piece of recent news, the UK is attempting to introduce mandatory age verification to access adult content online. The initiative comes as a mode to revive the scheme that has been deemed unworkable since 2015.

In a statement, Chris Philip MP, undersecretary of state for Tech and the Digital Economy, announced that the mostly-unchanged plan will be introduced as part of the forthcoming Online Safety Bill.

Ever since UK’s conservative party has included it in its 2015 manifesto, mandatory age verification has been in the works throughout the country. Since then, the UK has attempted to get the scheme running, passing the enabling laws in 2017 and setting a series of deadlines to implement the system.

During April 2019, regulators said that the scheme would finally begin operating that July but the then culture secretary pulled the plugin in mid-June. At the time, the plan was to replace the plan with a broader set of rules then being examined under the umbrella of Online Harms.

Unfortunately, the bill remains full of the same problems that rendered the system unworkable when it was previously introduced. The UK originally intended to hand off operation of the system to the BBFC, a film censorship board run by the film industry, rather than a dedicated operator.

It had also ignored the screams of privacy campaigners who said that databases holding the names of people who have signed up for age verification is a target for everyone. It doesn’t help that if a company owns an adult content portal and an age verification platform, which is what Pornhub owner Mindgeek proposed, there’s a concern about monopoly power.

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