Great Britain likes to go its very own way, Europeans in particular have been aware of this for several decades now. In the midst of the uncertain Brexit crisis, a particularly controversial law is coming into force: from 15 July, Great Britain will be the first country in the world to require Internet users to provide proof of age if they want to access adult content. Providers must ensure, under heavy penalties, that their content is not accessible to minors.
A law requiring online porn providers to check the age of their customers will come into force on 15 July, announced the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. If the age verification is not implemented, there is a risk of severe sanctions for websites selling adult content. The law had drawn immense criticism beforehand, as age verification would also enable the government to take further censorship measures in the future and monitor user behavior more closely.
Government position: Offline law must apply online
Basically, according to defenders of the law, it is merely a matter of enforcing the laws that apply offline in the online world. In addition, the advocates say that the new technology allows for extensive privacy protection and still guarantees the privacy of users.
However, for porn providers, making business on the net is becoming more difficult. British websites must now make sure that they technically ensure that users are over 18 years of age.
Government agency regulates Age Verification Systems providers
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for enforcing this requirement. An implementation period will apply from 15 July. Providers therefore have a certain period of time to install the necessary technology. As the legislative project has been known for years, many providers are already prepared anyway. The providers of so-called age verification solutions are monitored and certified by the BBFC.
Allegedly, only providers with high data protection requirements are to be certified. The BBFC will provide consumers with an opportunity to compare different age verification systems via a dedicated website. The offer is available under the name Ageverificationregulationer.com.
Protection of minors takes precedence over freedom of expression and data security
MEP Margot James says: »Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the U.K. to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.«
Critics argue that the law sends the wrong signal. The growing assault of governments on the free Internet threatens freedom of expression and opens the door to state persecution as well.
Further information from the British Government can be found here.