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Warnings New UK Government Plans To Require Age Verification On Porn Sites Could Lead To Ashley Madison-Style Hacks

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The UK government has announced plans that will require people accessing porn sites in the UK to verify their age.

The new age verification measures were announced yesterday, and are expected to be in place by April 2018.

It would require these sites to implement age verification tools to their platforms, or risk being banned or face a fine of up to £250,000.

Reports suggest that users of porn sites will have to provide credit card details to prove their age, the same system that is used on gambling sites.

It is also understood that the government plans to appoint a regulator, expected to be the British Board of Film Classification, to police these porn sites.

In a statement, the government said it was “a milestone in the Government’s work to make the UK the safest place in the world for children to be online”.

However digital campaigners have criticised the move, saying it could “fundamentally change the internet in the UK”.

Free speech campaigner Jerry Barnett said: “This law is the culmination of years of lobbying by a wide variety of state and private interests, and will fundamentally change the internet in the UK and possibly globally.

“For the first time, the government has the power to block websites, en masse, without court orders. This is a first in a democracy.

“Although this appears to be just about protecting children from porn, it isn’t. It will block any site that doesn’t comply with strict UK content rules.

“Any nude image at all risks being categorised as porn, and the entire site being blocked. Current filtering systems class up to 4m websites as sexual.

“It’s likely this regime will block the vast majority of these. And doubtless, the censorship regime will then be extended to other crimes against decency.

“Although much attention has been paid to the very dangerous snooper’s charter, this law is at least as dangerous, and has had far less attention.”

Campaigners have also warned about the possibility of an Ashley Madison-style hack if porn websites are building databases of UK consumers’ porn habits and personal details.

The move is part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which also includes measures such as requiring on-demand services to provide subtitling and audio descriptions, a crackdown on ticket touts and plans to increase digital coverage across the UK.

Read more about the legislation here.