Government drops risky age verification plan

Open Rights Group (ORG) has been warning about major privacy risks in plans for age checks on adult websites since they were proposed in the Digital Economy Act 2017.

After numerous delays the unworkable plan was finally dropped in 2019, averting a massive privacy risk for millions of UK residents.


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There’s absolutely no question children must be protected from harmful content – but age verification remains a flawed plan that would create new problems instead. Its privacy protections were merely optional for companies and would have prompted the creation of vulnerable records of the public’s porn preferences. That could lead to people being outed, blackmailed or having their careers destroyed. 

The Government has yet to say what it will do to protect children from adult content – but says plans will be contained in the next Online Harms Bill. Groups who have promoted this “silver bullet” policy aren’t going to give up just like that.

Thanks to help from our supporters, Open Rights Group was able raise the alarm about age verification’s privacy risks and convince the Government they were making a huge mistake. 

The Story So Far

Age Verification is dead – for now

Open Rights Group welcomes this change for two reasons.
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Jeremy Wright needs to act to avert disasters from porn age checks

The government rejected Parliamentary attempts to include privacy powers over age verification tools, so DCMS have limited possibilities right now.
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We met to discuss BBFC’s voluntary age verification privacy scheme, but BBFC did not attend

We invited all the AV providers we know about, and most importantly, the BBFC, at the start of February.
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We asked the BBFC to warn the Government about the dangers of age verification

On the 23rd April 2018, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) closed their consultation on their age verification guidelines for online pornography.
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Scrap the DEBill Age Verification and censorship – before it is too late

The Bill is an example of how not to legislate for the Internet and complex social issues.
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Website blocking will open up age verification to credit card fraud

Currently the BBFC are pinning their hopes on being able to specify some kind of privacy and safety standard through their ability to regulate “arrangements” that deliver age verified material.
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Age verification for porn sites is tricky so let’s try censorship

The amendment has been tabled because MPs understand that age verification cannot be imposed upon the entire mostly US-based pornographic industry by the UK alone.
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