Government porn block plans dropped

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Plans to conduct age-verification checks on adult website users have now been dropped, the Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced.

The plans, under Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, would have required commercial pornography websites to put stricter age verification measures in place, to prevent under-18s from accessing them.

Site users would have had the option of providing traditional ID such as driving licences and passports, as well as so-called "porn passes" which would have been available from high-street stores and newsagents.

But after a series of delays, the policy has been scrapped.

Ms Morgan said: "The government has concluded that this objective of coherence will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography.

Nicky Morgan announced the plans had been dropped

"The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime.

"This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms."

The UK was set to become the first country in the world to introduce the "robust" age-checks on porn users, set to launch in April 2018, and later pushed back until July 2019.

However, there was some backlash to the policy, particularly concerning protecting personal data, after a government press release announcing the scheme exposed hundreds of email addresses.

And a former pornography business owner told talkRADIO he believed the policy was an excuse to "control information on the internet".

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which was chosen to act as regulator for the checks, said it had all systems in place ready to get on with its new role.

In a statement, they said: "The introduction of age verification on pornographic websites in the UK is a necessary and important child protection measure."

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