Controversial age checks to access online porn delayed in UK

Graham Cluley

Controversial age checks to access online porn delayed in UK

Controversial age checks to access online porn delayed in UK

Just two weeks before the British government was due to introduce a compulsory order that porn sites verify their visitors’ ages, the controversial regulation has been pulled.

Age verification of all access to pornographic content was was supposed to have been made mandatory from April 2018 with the Digital Economy Act, but even at this late stage serious questions remained as to how precisely the X-rated websites would confirm visitors’ ages.

It will be up to individual websites what umm.. tools they choose to verify their users’ ages.

Hmm. Would you be happy sharing your credit card details with an adult website? How about uploading your password? And even if you did think your credit card was safe (despite the danger of an embarrassing data breach) what’s to stop a horny 15 year old from pinching their mum’s credit card while her back is turned?

As Wired described last week, one of the companies offering a potential “solution” to the age verification requirement is MindGeek, which just happens to own or operate top porn sites such as PornHub, RedTube, and YouPorn.

For age verification, MindGeek has developed AgeID. The company says it expects to sign-up 25 million people in the UK its system. According to Sky News, people will be able to login to AgeID with an email address and password, then use a third party system to check their age. AgeID will log which pornography websites are visited and store them.

So, there now exists a database of verified users of pornographic websites. Does anyone else see the potential problem with this?

Companies get hacked all the time. Government computer systems are compromised. Heck, even intelligence agencies get hacked.

What’s the betting that determined hackers might not also be able to get away with a database of porn lovers. We learnt about the real threat of blackmail after the Ashley Madison hack – a verified database of every porn viewer in Britain would make that breach look like small potatoes.

We talked about this red hot issue, and some other below-the-belt methods through which porn sites might verify their members, in an edition of the “Smashing Security” podcast last year. Give it a listen.

Smashing Security #034: 'The pen is mightier than the password'

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Other... | RSS
More episodes...

As BBC News reports, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says that the age verification scheme will now start “later in the year”.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

2 Replies to “Controversial age checks to access online porn delayed in UK”

  1. The government are taking online porn wayyy to seriously. I was 11 when I started watching porn, and I didn't grow up to be some serial rapist. The country has so many problems, we don't need our freedoms diminished even more.
    Teenagers always face the bad side of ageism by this fascist Orwellian government ordering schools to clamp down on freedom of expression, forced cross-country, forced uniforms, not being allowed an opinion the differs from theirs, etc. Now they want to clamp down ON OUR NATURAL BIOLOGY!!! They are alien scum who don't understand how humans work.
    I think a lot of older generations (who didn't grow up on the internet) can be really pornophobic, which makes them too sexually insecure. They cave into peer pressure because they have no brain of their own. I talk about my favourite porn sites openly with my friends or at work and the world doesn't end when I do. It's no big deal. There's too many rules-nazis in Britain. This wouldn't happen in America as they are really pro-freedom, the way people should and would be in a world without peer-pressure. The government should just chill out about these things and start creating more options, not less.

    1. Utter rubbish. Your comment reads like you're still at school and I'm surprised to read that you work. Forced cross country is a good idea as our children are fat and lazy. Forced uniform promotes a smart school image.

      "This wouldn’t happen in America as they are really pro-freedom"

      That one really made me laugh.

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