By Kayla Kibbe / April 18, 2019

The U.K.’s Controversial Porn Block Goes Into Effect July 15

Critics argue the new law could pose serious data privacy concerns

UK porn block
The U.K. porn block goes into effect on July 15
(Getty Images)

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This summer, U.K. teens will need a fake ID to watch porn.

A controversial new law will require websites to verify users are over 18 before before allowing them to access pornographic content, BBC reported.

The new restriction is expected to go into effect on July 15. The widely-criticized law has faced multiple delays since it was first enacted as part of the Digital Economy Act in 2017. It was originally supposed to launch back in April 2018.

When the law rolls out, prospective porn viewers in the U.K. will have to provide proof of age using documents like passports, credit cards, and driver’s licenses. People will also reportedly be able to purchase “porn passes” in stores for $6.50 per device.

The system will be overseen by the British Board of Film Classification. The Board will instruct internet providers on which sites to block for failing to require proof of age from users.

MindGeek, a leading porn streaming provider, has reportedly developed an age verification system called AgeID, which is the only offering of its kind so far. Users would upload their identification documents, which AgeID would then verify using a third party. The system would provide a single sign-on for for all MindGeek sites, meaning users would only have to verify their age once.

The controversial law has attracted widespread criticism, with many arguing that the new restriction will be largely ineffective at accomplishing its stated purpose, while causing much bigger data privacy concerns.

A recent Guardian op-ed argued that while the law will likely fail in its stated goal to block porn from underage eyes, it could pose severe consequences to ethical pornography produced by smaller sites and independent companies.

“The sites that will suffer most under this law are the ones that can’t afford to implement age verification measures and will therefore be blocked: independent porn sites, often ethical producers who are going it alone because they want to offer something different from mainstream sites,” the piece argued.

Moreover, the new system poses what the Guardian called “huge privacy concerns.”

Along with the risk of potentially embarrassing data breeches, the Guardian argued that the new law will also “encourage users to be freer with this sensitive data, any database that collects this info will be a tempting target for hackers.”

Perhaps tellingly, the U.K. is the only country in the world so far to try to implement this kind of system, but apparently the nation’s politicians didn’t take this as a hint.

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