Keep calm and wank on: UK porn block delayed for the third time

Keep calm and wank on: UK porn block delayed for the third time

With less than a month to go until pornographic sites are forced to implement their own age-checking software for UK users, the government has delayed the rollout for the third time running in over a year, says Sky News.

At the end of 2017, parliament passed the Digital Economy Act, which detailed plans for age-verification on online porn sites. It was initially due to be introduced in March 2018, months after the law was first passed –  but it was then delayed until July 15 2019, and then again today.

The law would see sites like PornHub introduce an 18+ age-checking system, also known as the “UK porn block.” With this tool, users would have to submit some form of ID to verify their age before entering the site. This caused fears around connecting users’ browsing habits to their identify, which could be exposed in a potential data leak. But the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has announced there will be another delay of at least six months.

Jeremy Wight, the secretary of state for DCMS, told the House of Commons that plans to use age-verification technology on porn sites won’t happen on 15 July, as previously hoped, because of a “failure to comply with EU law in how statutory instruments are passed.”

“In autumn last year, we laid three instruments before the House,” Wright told the Commons. “One of them sets out standards that companies need to comply with. This should have been notified to the European Commission, and it was not.”

The age-verification tool, falling under the Digital Economy Act, was launched soon after the NSPCC published a report revealing that more than half of children and teenagers that watched porn usually “stumbled across” it when in fact it’s not hard to find porn using Google.

With fears looming around online privacy protection and potential GDPR fines, we have to question how effective this tool will be. Earlier this year, the Guardian reported on just how easy it is to bypass the age checks – it took them less than two minutes to fool one of the flagship verification products. With yet another delay, it seems people in the UK will carry on accessing online porn, no question’s asked, for at least another six months.

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