Porn sites in the UK will soon be required to prove their users are 18 and older

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The UK will not trust the standard 18+ disclaimer to keep minors away from porn. The BBC reports the British government will soon require adult entertainment websites to update their pages with age-verification software that discourages underage users from consuming lewd content online.

Starting from April 2018, platforms distributing sexually suggestive materials will be legally obligated to implement stricter age-verification measures before granting users access to their content. The new set of regulations was introduced in an effort to make the internet safer for children.

Companies that fail to comply with the so-called Digital Economy Act will face risks of getting blocked by local internet service providers. The government has plans to institute a dedicated regulatory body to oversee potential breaches and violations.

So far the frontrunner for the task is the British Board of Film Classification, which is already responsible for setting age limits for movie and game releases.

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

The decision aims to counteract recent findings by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) which suggest that X-rated materials could have a negative impact on minors. The study further indicated that more than a quarter of all underage users aged 11 and above have seen adult content.

It remains unclear what age-verification solution the British authorities are planning to implement, but the Independent remarks it could resemble the mechanisms employed by gambling websites. This means users could be asked to provide details from credit cards, which cannot be legally issued to minors.

How successful this measure will prove to be is yet to be seen. But one particularly worrisome aspect is the lack of details as to what measures porn sites and regulators are planning to take in order to protect verification data provided by users.

In an unpleasant turn of events, last year adult entertainment giants xHamster and Brazzers both suffered breaches that exposed the private information of over 380,000 and 800,000 users, respectively. The British government has yet to address how it could safeguard user data during such incidents.

Then there is the issue with mischievous minors scheming to use their parents’ credit cards to circumvent age-restrictive mechanisms – something gambling websites have continuously struggled to thwart in an effective and viable manner.

So while British officials certainly have some valid reasons to pursue restricting minors’ access to smut flicks, government members ought to really make sure that the new measures in no way put the private data of millions of users at risk.

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