In brief: The United Kingdom’s controversial age verification system to prevent minors from accessing adult content online has officially been abandoned. The plan was never solid from the get-go, in large part due to the logistics of implementing it.
Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said in a written statement published on Wednesday that the government believes the best way to accomplish its goal of protecting children is through “wider online harms proposals.” As such, efforts to implement age verification for online pornography will not be commencing.
The UK government has been attempting to restrict access to online pornography for years through a variety of measures. The most recent was Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which would have enforced the aforementioned age verification system starting in 2018. Multiple delays led to today’s inevitable result – quietly ditching the plan.
Those interested in getting their “porn license” would have had to verify their age by providing banking details, installing software on their computer or phone or even going into a physical store to prove their age.
All of these options would have been a privacy nightmare. Combined with the fact that social media was exempt and VPNs could have been used to skirt the system, it wouldn’t have worked very well.
Morgan concluded that adult content is too easily accessed online and that more needs to be done to protect children from harm. “We will continue to engage with members of Parliament on the provisions of the online harms regime to ensure the most comprehensive online harms proposals which deliver on the objectives of the Digital Economy Act,” she added.
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