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UK Finally (and Quietly) Drops Plans for Online Porn Age Checks

Late last year, the UK Government proposed changes to the law that would require any access to online pornographic websites to undergo an age verification of the user. Something that seemed likely to happen as the proposals were passed into law shortly after.

There was, however, always the (rather basic) question of how they intended to do this. Would the government set up some kind of official website that gave you your ‘gateway password’ to adult material? If so, what kind of verification system would be used and, perhaps more pointedly, how securely would that data be stored?

If you have been keeping tabs on this, you’ll note that the initial April 2019 implementation date for the law has long since passed. In fact, for the last 5 months, the new laws have been on indefinite hold.

We do, however, finally have our answer to what is going to happen. The short version is nothing. Yes, the entire project has been (very quietly) scrapped.

UK Government Scraps Online Porn Verification Laws

It is perhaps not surprising that the decision to scrap the plans hasn’t been made with too much of a fanfare. It seems, however, that ultimately the practicality of introducing this was just far too difficult.

Matt Powell of Broadband Genie has said:

“The age verification plan was a bad idea from the beginning. Not only were there legitimate concerns about the ability of age ID providers to secure a database containing private and potentially damaging information, but it would have been laughably ineffective.

Even if web sites agreed to comply, VPNs would have allowed users to avoid the block. And platforms such as Twitter and Reddit were exempt.

It was clear this was always going to be a pointless endeavour. That the plans went this far is yet more proof that the government lacks a basic understanding of technology. And that it is failing to either ask for or listen to expert advice before wasting tax payer’s money.”

What Do We Think?

Despite the overall unpopularity of such ‘porn’ laws being made, overlooking the practicality of their implementation, there was a good argument to be made for them. If we’re being honest, adult websites are today able to operate without any user age verification at all. They don’t even bother with the old-school ‘are you over 18?’ question. As such, you could easily have an underage child (even within the simple remit of a miss-type) viewing highly inappropriate material. Like it or not, it is a problem!

As such, it can’t be argued that pornography is perhaps too easily accessible on the internet. While the UK Government’s motives may have been sound, however, perhaps next time (if, indeed, there is one) they’ll actually think of how to do it before simply announcing that it was happening.

What do you think? Was this a good or bad idea? Do you think the UK Government may revisit this in the future? In addition, do you have an idea that could’ve made this work? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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