Two weeks ago we commented on the anticipated introduction of age verification controls on porn sites which were due to come into force today. It is now understood that the implementation of these controls has been delayed, with some media outlets reporting that an official announcement is expected this week.
These “porn block” controls are contained in the Digital Economy Act 2017 and place age verification obligations on any organisation making porn commercially available online. Once the regulations come into force, organisations will have to satisfy themselves that their users are aged 18 or over. It is expected that in order to do this, users will be required to submit their passport, driving licence or credit card details online, or alternatively, they could purchase a “porn pass” from high street retailers who will verify the age of the individual in person.
At this stage it is expected that these controls will only apply to commercial porn sites, however governmental officials have previously commented that the regulations could apply more widely in future to include social media networks.
Whilst the aim of these regulations is to protect young people from online harm, the plans have come under criticism as, with the exception of the porn pass, they necessitate the collection of personal data which could be prone to hacks or leaks. What is more, for those young people minded to do so, the proposed controls are easy to circumvent.
For now, we await further comment from the government with anticipation. This is something that social media platforms should be keeping an eye on as it is likely to set a precedent for internet safeguarding in the UK.
Online safety is a hot topic for the government at the moment. Read our earlier article which sets out a summary of developments in this area.