UK government delays online porn checks

Compulsory age verification check will not be launched in April

Porn

Plans to force adult-only entertainment websites to carry out compulsory age verification checks for visitors will not now be introduced in April.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed yesterday that the checks would instead start "later in the year".

The verification process for porn sites was due to be enforced as part of the Digital Economy Act. But concerns were raised over how the implementation of these checks would be done and there was also apprehension over perceived threats it posed to online privacy, as such assessments involving a third party.

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A DCMS spokesman told BBC News that time was needed to "make sure we get it right". It has been argued that the age checks would lead to adults parting with sensitive personal data that could be a security risk if it got into the wrong hands.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which has been selected as the regulator of such checks, has failed to create a plan to implement age checks, but DCMS was eager to emphasise that checks would come into being at some point.

"We are making age verification compulsory for commercial porn sites, as part of our work to make the internet a safer place for children," a DCMS spokesman said. "But we need to take the time to make sure we get it right if it's going to work, and it will come into effect later this year."

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The delay was welcomed by privacy groups. Open Rights Group's legal director, Myles Jackman, said that "this is a chance for the government to rethink the absence of safeguards for privacy and security, but it is frightening to consider that this policy was two weeks away from launch before it was pulled".

"[Secretary of state for digital] Matt Hancock needs to introduce powers to safeguard privacy immediately before this scheme causes real damage," he added.

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