Government Error Delays Online Pornography Age-Check Scheme

An age-check scheme designed to stop under-18s viewing pornographic websites has been delayed a second time. The culture secretary confirmed the postponement saying the government had failed to tell European regulators about the plan. 

In the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said an “important notification process was not undertaken for an element of this policy”. 

Experts Comments: 

Brian Higgins, Security Specialist at Comparitech.com: 

“The age verification protocols proposed by the UK government are a a good-faith attempt to protect vulnerable young people from inappropriate online content. Unfortunately they have zero chance of meeting the governments objectives. There is always a ‘work around’ in cybersecurity. Aside from the flawed approach to the privacy issues surrounding the proposed verification process, people want to watch porn. Therefore, people will find a way to watch it. Placing a barrier to one access point will simply displace appetites to sites and platforms where verification is not required. Sites where content renders them out of scope, users will simply ‘work around’ it by using VPNs to obfuscate their location.” 

Paul Bischoff, Privacy Advocate at Comparitech.com: 

“The UK’s new system purports to only verify age and not identity, but in reality, the strategy is full of holes. In order for age verification to be accurate, users must be properly identified. The system depends on private companies to properly handle and secure sensitive identifying data. Companies get breached all the time, and porn sites are not particularly reputable when it comes to cybersecurity, so this is already wishful thinking. Data breaches exposing British people’s sexual preferences and favourite porn sites seems inevitable.

Furthermore, nothing is stopping malicious websites from simply adding the green logo and phishing for visitor’s private information, which UK users might feel obliged to provide under the new law. Ultimately, the law will just be a burden for both site visitors and pornographic websites and could put more people at risk.

It will not be that effective. It might prevent a few kids from accidentally stumbling across porn, but it won’t stop kids who actively seek it out. These kids will be channelled toward sites that don’t employ age verification, which are often less safe than the more mainstream alternatives (Pornhub, etc).” 


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