Porn sites will be forced to conduct compulsory ID checks in the United Kingdom by April 2018, according to newly announced measures that could see users being forced to hand over their credit card details.
As part of the country's Digital Economy Act and efforts to protect children, the United Kingdom will begin requiring online pornography sites to verify visitor ages, though many specific details on how the identity checks will be enforced remain unclear. It also refused to comment on which third party will be developing and operating the government's age verification system.
Digital Minister Matt Hancock on Monday signed the act's commencement order, dictating that, among other things, websites hosting adult content must soon verify that visitors are of legal age to view such content.
The powers, which were pushed as part of the Conservative Party's 2017 manifesto, will reportedly apply to both free and commercial websites, and will even attempt to govern those hosted overseas.
The aim is for all online pornography to have age verification controls by April 2018 along with the appointment of a new regulatory body to oversee and enforce it, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said. It's not yet know who the watchdog is, but it "is believed to be the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)" - an organisation that provides age restrictions for TV shows, films and video games in the UK.
Will Gardner, chief executive of internet safety charity Childnet International, said: 'Protecting children from exposure, including accidental exposure, to adult content is incredibly important, given the effect it can have on young people.More news: Libya's oil production at 1.032 million bpd
Hancock is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons today.
Despite the fact that new powers will be hard to implement effectively-given that so many sites are overseas which can be accessed by porn fans using, say, VPN workarounds-Hancock is convinced that "the United Kingdom will have the most robust Internet child protection measures of any country in the world".
'Steps like this to help restrict access, alongside the provision of free parental controls and education, are key.
An NSPCC report in 2016 said online pornography could damage a child's development and decision-making and had been seen by 65% of 15-16 year olds and 48% of 11-16 year olds.
The organization's study also deduced that about 28 percent of children have been noted to stumble upon pornography websites accidentally, while 19 percent searched for such sites intentionally. "It is essential to help".