A New Age of Censorship…The UK adult trade is expecting a new law requiring age verification for all websites, and those that don’t comply will be blocked

Posted: 27 May, 2015 in ATVOD VOD Censor, Internet Blocking, Internet Censorship
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Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

David Cameron Britons may soon face ID checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between the government and groups from the beleaguered UK adult trade.

A scheme proposed by the industry group, The Digital Policy Alliance,  would see adult sites verifying visitors’ identity with organisations such as banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS.  Adult websites would offer visitors a choice of identity providers — from Vodafone to the Department for Work and Pensions — to vouch for their age, O’Connell said. The user would sign in to the provider with a username and password, and a check would be run against the data it holds. To boost privacy, checks would pass through an anonymising hub . This strips identifying information in both directions of the request. In theory, the provider never knows the reasons for the checks, and the site never knows users’ true identities, just that they are over 18.

It comes ahead of an expected new law demanding age checks for online pornography and threatening a block on any sites which don’t comply. It is a key Conservative pledge. But critics say the plans are a privacy nightmare. Some warn they are a step towards Chinese-style internet restrictions. Myles Jackman, a lawyer specialising in obscenity law said:

This is cutting-edge censorship. We are now becoming the world leaders in censorship. And we are being watched very closely from abroad.

British-based sites have had to make stringent age checks since 2010, using credit cards, the electoral roll and credit reference agencies. It’s a quite intrusive means of identifying age, said Chris Ratcliff, chief executive of Portland TV, which runs Television X. Many customers simply go elsewhere, he said. Ratcliff, a key member of the DPA’s age verification working group, expects government action by the end of the year.

According to Tory proposals, a regulator would have the power to block sites that don’t use stringent enough checks. Observers believe this will be the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod), which currently enforces age-check and obscenity rules on UK streaming video sites. The result of ATVOD’s ‘enforcement’ is that it is near impossible to run a UK site within the current rules and has led to the UK industry losing out to foreign operations.

The legal situation is also confused. Ratcliff said it was unclear whether new rules would make content not behind age filters illegal. Jackman added:

As a matter of international law, I don’t understand how it can possibly work. And I don’t understand how it can work under the Obscene Publications Act. It’s just being made up as they go along.

The stub of the UK adult trade that has been persevering with ludicrous British censorship required, eg Ofcom rules only allowing softcore TV, believe that acceptable age verification may be a benefit, but this seems unlikely. As with eBay, Amazon, Apple, and Google, once governments start making life tough with onerous rules and red tape, only the largest operation have large enough economies of scale to handle the burdensome expenses, so creating a natural monopoly. and as the US has the largest markets, so they can grab the lion’s share of the market.

And as for the kids, there’s already enough porn knocking around on hard drives to keep them happy for decades. Perhaps they will just go back to swapping porn mags, or themodern dayequivalent,64GByte memory sticks with enough porn to last a year.And as a final thought, It is not clear that the security services would be very impressed if half the population of Britain were forced into using VPNs and the like. It would make life an awful lot tougher to keep track of the bad guys.

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