UK set to launch crackdown against Porn websites | Tech News

UK set to launch crackdown against Porn websites

The UK government said it will force all porn websites to verify the age of their users as part of its Online Safety Bill.

By:BLOOMBERG
| Updated on: Feb 08 2022, 23:18 IST
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If porn websites fail to act, the independent regulator Ofcom will be able to fine them. (Representational image) (iStock)

The UK government said it will force all websites that publish pornography to verify the age of their users as part of its Online Safety Bill. Sites will be legally required to put “robust checks” in place to ensure users are 18 years old or over, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said on Tuesday in an emailed statement. That could include using technology to verify users possess a credit card, or getting a third-party service to confirm a person's age against government data, it said. 

If websites fail to act, the independent regulator Ofcom will be able to fine them up to 10% of their annual global sales or block them in the U.K., the department said.

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Lawmakers will vote on the legislation in the coming months. Last week the government said online platforms like Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. would be required to show how they pro-actively prevent harmful content from spreading. 

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News agency AP adds that under the government's draft online safety bill, porn sites will be legally required to put “robust checks” in place to protect children from accessing them. Companies could use secure age verification technology to confirm a user has a credit card, or use a third-party service to confirm a user's age against government data.

Officials said that if sites fail to conform they can be fined up to 10% of their annual global turnover. Their sites could also be blocked in the U.K. by the communications regulator, and the companies' bosses could be held criminally liable.

“It is too easy for children to access pornography online. Parents deserve peace of mind that their children are protected online from seeing things no child should see,” said Chris Philp, the digital minister.

Currently the online safety bill, which was published in May, only covers commercial porn sites that allow user-generated content. The proposed update announced Tuesday means that all commercial porn sites will be regulated.

Officials said that while the communications regulator could recommend the use of age verification technologies, the onus will be on companies to decide how best to comply with the new rules.

Research has suggested that half of 11 to 13 year olds in the U.K. have seen pornography, and many younger children have stumbled upon porn online.

 

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First Published Date: 08 Feb, 23:18 IST
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