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Conservatives Pledge Strict Age Verification for Adult Porn Websites

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 (11:19 pm) - Score 1,987
banned from the internet cross

The Conservative Party has revived a proposal to introduce strict age verification checks on adult Internet content, particularly pornographic websites, if they win the coming General Election. But making a workable solution won’t be easy.

So far, leaving aside the Budget 2015 announcements, we haven’t heard much in the way of broadband or Internet related election promises from the major political parties. In that sense it’s refreshing to finally have a pledge to look at, even if it is one that has cropped up in prior Government reports and which in the past has also enjoyed a fair degree of support from a good number of opposition politicians’.

Broadly speaking the current Government’s Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, has pledged to force all providers of Internet smut (both in the UK and abroad) to introduce strict Age Verification Checks on their websites. Sites that fail to comply would risk facing financial penalties from a new regulatory body.

Apparently the verification process would then involve either using a more traditional Credit Card Verification check or requiring the user to share details of their Passport or Driving Licence through special pre-approved software. At this stage though the details, as with any pre-election pledge, become sparse and it’s not yet clear whether such an approach would even remain limited to porn.

Sajid Javid MP said:

This is about giving children the best start in life; we do not want to prevent adults from accessing legal content but we do want to protect our children from harmful material, so they are free to develop a healthy attitude to sex and relationships.”

Obviously such an approach would face a number of difficulties and to keep life simple we’ve summarised a few of those below.

The Difficulties of Internet Age Verification

* Any system that requires its own regulatory body is likely to be expensive.

* Nearly all children in the United Kingdom are already protected by optional network-level filtering at ISP level, which blocks adult websites. But this can easily be circumvented.

* It is not clear how rules applied in the UK could realistically be enforced on sites abroad without global cooperation, and since most porn appears to come from overseas..

* Hands up who would trust sensitive personal data to any providers of pornographic content, not least with the risk that this could create another avenue for fraudsters to exploit.

* Children are nothing if not resourceful and casual “borrowing” of a parent’s credit card, passport or driving licence details suggest this is unlikely to be a completely effective deterrent, although good parenting can help to minimise such risks.

* Pre-paid credit cards are often available to those under the age of 18 and such systems would need to be clever enough to detect this. Equally such cards can also be used by adults who may be unable to access a credit card.

One interesting question that arises from all this is, if such a proposal were actually to become successful, then might it not also give rise to the question of whether the big broadband providers should still be forced to offer network-level filtering (the Age Verification approach is likely to be harder to circumvent).

Otherwise the biggest barriers are likely to be one of cost and jurisdiction for sites that exist outside of the UK, which in reality will mean that most sites will almost certainly slip through the proverbial net and thus remain accessible.

At this point we have the ISP filtering as a fall back (an assumption suggests that porn blocks by ISPs may thus become mandatory for non-compliant sites), but then we already know how easy those are to circumvent and children are usually more clued up about such things than adults.

As usual the best age verification system remains good parenting and education.

Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Avatar CaptainCret

    Apart from the fact the BBC story talks about “POM”in the title (snaf snaf!)

    Who in their right minds is going to trust a load of sleazy porn sites with their CC details??

    Never mind the fact that most of these sites ate outside of the UK and therefore rather difficult to regulate.

    Pre Erection… err I mean election bullshit.

  2. Avatar Al

    The last line in the article sums it up. Surely it is upto the parent teach their children what is acceptaqble for them to view. Sure you can put in credit card checks etc.. put young people can be resourceful, get a hold of their parents cards, how many parents these days send their children to the shops with their cards to get some shopping from the local convenience store?

    • Avatar CaptainCret

      Hopefully none, as it breaks your contract with the banks to keep your PIN number to yourself.

  3. Avatar Steve Jones

    As mentioned, pretty well impossible to enforce and easy to circumvent short of imposing a regime like that of China. I also can’t see blanket blocking of foreign websites which refuse to co-operate being accepted by the UK public, even if it is only the “adult” ones.

  4. Avatar Bob2002

    The person posting at 12.22am, and 10.00am is not Bob2002 but our usual troll impersonating me – hopefully you will be blocked idiot.

    • Avatar Captain Cretin

      Sorry Bob2002; that was me.

      I swapped my name over a while back as a joke, then forgot to reset it before making the top post here.

      Yeah, it really needs to be sorted, Hopefully the boss will do something when he has time.

  5. Avatar timeless

    to be honest with the election so near the Cons are going to say anything to get elected again.. its already been proved numerous times that they will lie to gather support and the problem is with this “idea” it resonates with voters because it sounds like a good idea, but those who have an idea about how tech works know it will be impossible to implement.

  6. Yawn. VPN anyone? 🙂

  7. Avatar cyclope

    If you think this is really about protecting children then you couldn’t be further from the truth, this is just another step towards what they have in china, they want control of what we do and see on the internet

  8. Avatar dragoneast

    Politicians have a pornography obsession. Must be their sad life, I suppose. Kids, on the other hand, have better things to do.

  9. I think you will find this will happen along with the excellent encryption plans proposed by David Cameron – not!
    Seriously they will pursue it for the reasons many cite here with I think, the use of circumvention tools, made illegal ….probably linked to terrorists… yes I know, nonsense, but we are dealing with control freaks here.
    As I see it I am the account holder for my BB and they know I am older than 18 and I have no children – so no restrictions should be in place, except those re Child abuse of course
    David

  10. Very good article, they are to be congratulated.

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