The UK will lead the world when it puts into effect on July 15 a new law requiring online porn users to prove they are adults via an age verification process, according to a press release from the British government.
This new approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline.
According to the release, “Commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over. The move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7-17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online. Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.”
The Minister for Digital 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.”
The release continues:
CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting said:
We are delighted to see the government tackling the issue of online pornography – as children seeing content they’re not emotionally ready for can be very damaging, especially if they don’t speak out about it.
While our research shows that parents overwhelmingly support age-verification and are confident it will make a difference, we must recognise that digital solutions aren’t the only answer and parents can’t become complacent about their child’s digital world.
There is no substitute to having regular and honest conversations with your child about what they’re getting up to online, establishing an open dialogue about their digital life from a young age.
Childnet Chief Executive Will Gardner said:
We hope that the introduction of this age-verification will help in protecting children, making it harder for young people to accidentally come across online pornography, as well as bringing in the same protections that we use offline to protect children from age-restricted goods or services.
Talking to children is vital and education has a major part to play here, and we need to ensure all young people are given a platform to discuss the pressures they face online and have the skills to spot and understand the gap between perception and reality. We are releasing a new extended PSHE toolkit later this month to address the issue of online pornography along with related topics of body image and healthy relationships.
We know that conversations with young people, parents and carers and teachers are paramount to giving children the information, support and skills that they need.
Read the full press release on the age verification law.