The UK Government has confirmed that age verification enforcement for adult web content will come into play this July, after a brief delay from its April launch date - and privacy campaigners are unimpressed.

Originally proposed in February 2016 and accepted into law shortly after, the new rules require that all sites offering adult content use an officially-recognised means of checking that visitors from the UK are aged 18 or above - methods which are, naturally, a little more robust than a checkbox which reads 'I AM AN ADULT HONEST.'

'Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online,' claims Minister for Digital Margot James of the new legislation, which is claimed to have an 88 percent approval rating from parents of children aged 7-17. 'The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.'

The plan was originally to launch the age verification systems this month, but a last-minute delay means that they will not come into force until July 15th. At that time, the Government promises, there will be a number of age verification options available to users: These will include the submission of traditional ID documents, including credit cards or passports, or the purchase of what wags are calling a 'porn pass' card from the local corner shop.

Critics, however, warn that the plethora of verification systems available could spell trouble from a privacy perspective. 'The government needs to compel companies to enforce privacy standards. The idea that they are "optional" is dangerous and irresponsible,' claims Jim Killock, executive director of the pro-privacy Open Rights Group (ORG). 'Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer's paradise – of the government’s own making. Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government’s own fault. The government needs to shape up and legislate for privacy before their own policy results in people being outed, careers destroyed or suicides being provoked.'

The Government, meanwhile, claims to have 'listened carefully to privacy concerns' and has come up with a means of verifying only age, not identity. All verification providers will need to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), while the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has come up with a voluntary certification scheme, dubbed the Age-Verification Certificate (AVC), which verification service providers can use to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

Embarrassingly, however, the Government's announcement of the July launch date demonstrated how it is perhaps not the best organisation around when it comes to matters of privacy: A press release was emailed with around 300 UK and international technology journalists' contact details in the Carbon Copy (CC) header, disclosing said details to all other recipients and resulting in a flood of Reply-All emails in response.


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