Government drops plan for ‘porn ID’ online age verification

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Age verification measures designed to prevent children from stumbling on pornography online have been dropped, Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced.

Plans will no longer go ahead under Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 - which would have required commercial pornography websites to put stricter age verification measures in place - with efforts instead focused into the Government’s wider online harms plan.

The decision has been made to drop the age verification for online pornography element of the legislation.  Picture: File

The decision has been made to drop the age verification for online pornography element of the legislation. Picture: File

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“The Government has concluded that this objective of coherence will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography,” Ms Morgan said.

“The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime.

“This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms.”

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The BBFC, which was due to act as regulator for the pornography age verification measures, said it had systems ready in place to undertake its role.

“The introduction of age-verification on pornographic websites in the UK is a necessary and important child protection measure,” the organisation said.

“The BBFC was designated as the Age Verification Regulator under the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA) in February 2018, and has since worked on the implementation of age verification, developing a robust standard of age verification designed to stop children from stumbling across or accessing pornography online.

“The BBFC had all systems in place to undertake the role of AV Regulator, to ensure that all commercial pornographic websites accessible from the UK would have age gates in place or face swift enforcement action.

“The BBFC understands the Government’s decision, announced today, to implement age verification as part of the broader online harms strategy.

“We will bring our expertise and work closely with Government to ensure that the child protection goals of the DEA are achieved.”

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