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UK Age-Based Porn Block Launches July 15

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ROBERT KRAYCHIK

The U.K. announced Wednesday that its mandatory age-verification system for accessing online pornography will begin July 15. Internet patrons will be required to verify their ages with passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, or other documents prior to accessing pornography.

Internet porn companies failing to comply with the law may be blocked by Internet service providers.

The UK’s legal definition of “pornographic material” is provided in 2017’s Digital Economy Act. Exemptions from the age-verification mandate are made for sites whose content is deemed to be “less than one-third” pornographic. The exemption will apply to Twitter, Reddit, and picture sharing site Imgur.

The Verge reported

Beyond criticisms that the block will be ineffective, [critics] say it also creates a huge range of digital rights and privacy issues. The company at the forefront of verifying users’ ages will be MindGeek, which operates the world’s most popular porn sites, including Pornhub, YouPorn, and RedTube.

[Critics warn the law] will create a centralized list of porn viewers in the UK, which would be a prime target for hackers.

Mindgeek’s age-verification system, called AgeID, requires users to upload scans of their age-verifying documents — such as passports and driver’s licenses — to its database, which includes “third-party verification.”

“Porn passes will also be sold in shops for £4.99 ($6.50),” reported the Verge, which will provide codes to be used for accessing content behind the age-verification system.

Originally composing the law in April, the government has been communicating with “relevant industry stakeholders” over the past 12 months, according to Business Insider.

U.K. Digital Minister Margot James said, “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age verification is a world first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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