Last year, Britain approved the Digital Economy Act 2017, which included strict new rules regarding access to pornographic websites. When the law goes into effect later this year, regulators have suggested that users will be able to purchase a so-called “porn pass,” from their local newsstand to verify their age.
The law will require websites to verify the users ages, or face stiff penalties. Those who don’t comply risk being blocked by internet service providers, and would face fines of up to £250,000 ($350,000). However, the implementation of those rules have been delayed to give the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) more time to draft its guidelines. Once it does so, those new guidelines will require approval from Parliament.
The government has said that industry will be responsible to create the verification software, with platforms such as MindGeek’s AgeID cited as one way to verify a user’s age. However, there are concerns about the implications for privacy under such a framework, and The Telegraph reports that the BBFC is suggesting a more anonymous option: their local newsstand. The stores would sell a “porn pass,” a 16-digit code for around £10, and would require a driver’s license or passport to verify the buyer’s age. That method wouldn’t require someone to enter their personal information into an online database. In 2015, the Digital Police Alliance suggested that websites utilize “information already on the books” to carry out these checks, such as post offices or wireless providers.
A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is responsible for the legislation, said that it is in the process of “implementing some of the strictest data protection laws in the world,” and that the range of verification options will have to abide by those standards.
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