Online Safety

UK to revise online safety laws: Pornographic websites legally required to verify users age

Marking Safer Internet Day digital minister Mr Chris Philip announces to revise online safety laws .

Websites hosting pornography in the U.K. be legally forced to prevent children from accessing their websites using technology such as age verification. If not followed Ofcom will be able to fine companies 10 percent of their global turnover or block them from being accessible in the U.K. if they fail to act.

Before this announcement, only commercial porn sites that allow user-generated content was in the scope of the Bill. With the new update, all commercial porn sites will come within the scope of the proposed rules

Besides that, many just have a simple pop-up asking whether a user is 18-years old or over, but one tap is all it takes to then view explicit content.

51% of children aged 11-13 years old have seen pornography, with many of them — some as young as 7 years old — unintentionally stumbling upon pornography online, according to research by the British Board of Film Classification in 2020.

In a statement, digital minister Chris Philp said: “It is too easy for children to access pornography online. Parents deserve the peace of mind that their children are protected online from seeing things no child should see.

“We are now strengthening the Online Safety Bill so it applies to all porn sites to ensure we achieve our aim of making the internet a safer place for children.”

DCMS said the incoming legislation will not specify which age verification technologies porn sites must use for “robust” age checks to ensure their users are 18 years or older.

“This could include adults using secure age verification technology to verify that they possess a credit card and are over 18 or having a third-party service confirm their age against government data,” it suggested.

DCMS’ press release claims the age verification technologies that porn sites will be required to implement “do not require a full identity check”.

It also stipulates that while users “may” need to verify their age using identity documents, the measures companies put in place “should not process or store data that is irrelevant to the purpose of checking age”.

It’s right the government has listened to calls to fix one of the gaps in the Online Safety Bill and protect children from pornography wherever it’s hosted,’ said Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC.Crucially, they have also acted on our concerns and closed the “OnlyFans loophole” that would have let some of the riskiest sites off the hook despite allowing children access to extremely damaging material,’ he added.

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