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The UK government’s plan to impose a ‘porn block’ by requiring stringent age verification requirements is ploughing ahead, despite no consultation on the way in which peoples’ personal data will be handled.

The Digital Economy Act’s age verification requirements – and the problems they pose for data privacy, independent producers and a host of other parties – have seen no substantive changes in the last few months, and are still scheduled to come into effect “around April 1”, obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman told SEXTECHGUIDE. He did, however, add that the new regulations might not start until “around Easter weekend”, based on comments made by Lord Hyde of Ashton. 

If you’ve missed the story so far, for users, the requirements mean that if you want to view pornography online, you will need to verify your age via one of the approved third-party Age Verification (AV) services, such as the AgeID platform developed by MindGeek, the company behind Pornhub and many other major porn sites. This verification will, generally, be integrated into the service in question, but usually won’t be owned by it.

What Jackman, and many others, are most worried about is the creation of a massive database of porn users in the UK, and the implications for the privacy of those users and how their data will be handled. The job of putting verification systems and standards in place falls to the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification).

However, with just a few weeks before the systems are supposed to be put into place, the BBFC is still now at this stage trying to create a privacy standard for AV providers to adhere to, and is doing so entirely without external input from privacy groups and without a public consultation period, according to Jackman.

“This [process] is supposed to address concerns about data privacy, to do it in private seems extraordinarily negligent or petulant,” Jackman said.

SEXTECHGUIDE contacted the BBFC but had not received a response at the time of writing.

A familiar tune?

The reality of the age verification regulations is that no one knows how they will operate in practice, or what response adult companies will have to notifications sent out by the BBFC.

And that the measures are unlikely to do anything about the underlying problem they aim to fix: preventing people under the age of 18 from accessing pornography.

There’s a somewhat all-too-familiar feeling about it all, which echoes the (mis-)handling of Britain’s departure from the European Union. Indeed, in the UK over the last two years, it has become normal to assume that both businesses and the average person in the street will be left wondering what is happening with government-initiated plans.

And once again, with the clock ticking down, that seems to be exactly what is happening.

Read Next: UK pulls U-turn on obscenity laws, but is pushing ahead with age verification

Ben
I started this site and keep it running. Tech. Sex. The future. SEXTECHGUIDE is a place to look a bit closer at that the place where those things meet.My regular work is currently found on WIRED, TrustedReviews, The Inquirer, V3, The Next Web and many more sites. I'm available to hire, or for media consultation/training for startups.If you want to get in contact, shoot an email to [email protected]

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