Government proposes mandatory age checks for adult sites

February 16, 2016 // 11:41 a.m.

Tags: #adult #adult-entertainment #age-check #censorship #child-protection #conservative #extremism #government #law #pornography #uk-government

The government is taking its anti-pornography stance a step further, supplementing on-by-default filtering systems with a proposed mandatory age check on all 18 or R18 rated content accessed over the internet.

When the Conservative government last campaigned, one of its manifesto pledges was to push through a law which would require all adult websites to check that its users are above the age of 18. Now, the government has issued a consultation document seeking input on how to make that happen and proposing that such age checks would be mandatory on any site providing access to content that would be certificated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) as 18 or R18 rated - regardless of whether such a certification has been sought or is required. As a result, it would potentially cover not only traditional adult entertainment such as pornography but also violent games and streaming video.

The consultation, the BBC reports, seeks input from parents, schools, child protection experts, internet service providers - whom, as with the government's mandatory censorship filters, which cover both pornography and political extremism, would be expected to foot at least some of the bill for implementing any technological measures required to check users' ages - and the adult entertainment industry. The proposed regulatory framework under which the checks would be enforced would, the document states, include the ability to level fines against sites that do not comply and even to force payment processing and advertising services to withdraw their support.

The proposal follows the government's block-by-default filters, introduced in July 2013 ostensibly to prevent minors from accessing pornography but extended in November the same year to block extremist political content and its plan to reintroduce the Snooper's Charter which had previously been shot down by its coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.
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