UK Age Verification

In less than a month, the UK will require all “commercial” sites that “make available” pornography to implement an age verification system. The UK’s film censor, the BBFC will enforce this and will have quasi-judicial powers to make ISPs block sites that don’t comply. It seems unclear about who they will target, but it seems likely that they’ll target the top 100 sites given they’re not well resourced for this – personal sites are possibly to be ignored, at least for now.

The legislation states that it applies to sites that make content available on a “commercial basis”, even if they’re loss making. As a result, I’ve removed any affiliate links on the site. Full disclosure: in the last decade I’ve received <£300 from this but it was nice to buy the odd bit of gear.

A further complication is that Pornhub have been chosen to deploy the system of age verification, AgeID. My main concern is that this will generate a giant database of viewing habits ripe for the purloining. I’ve always been clear that I don’t use any tracking (like Google Analytics) and I even go to the effort of explicitly not storing any server logs of visits. Although AgeID might be “free” (for now?) I would rather close the site rather than open up viewers to a giant multinational and governmental database.

A wider concern is sites like Twitter and Tumblr. I can see Tumblr dropping porn blogs, given their parent owner seems want rid of them anyway. Twitter has been more inclined to protect free speech but in the face of extreme pressure will they implement a system of age verification for access to individual users for all global users and not just UK ones?

I’ll be here as long as I can. ✌

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