Posts Tagged ‘Age Verification’

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BBFC logo Age verification has been hanging over us for several years now – and has now been put back to the end of 2018 after enforcement was originally planned to start last month.

I’m enormously encouraged by how many people took the opportunity to speak up and reply to the BBFC consultation on the new regulations .

Over 500 people submitted a response using the tool provided by the Open Rights Group , emphasising the need for age verification tech to be held to robust privacy and security standards.

I’m told that around 750 consultation responses were received by the BBFC overall, which means that a significant majority highlighted the regulatory gap between the powers of the BBFC to regulate adult websites, and the powers of the Information Commissioner to enforce data protection rules.

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avsecure age verification cardAdults who want to watch online porn (or maybe by adults only products such as alcohol) will be able to buy codes from newsagents and supermarkets to prove that they are over 18 when online.One option available to the estimated 25 million Britons who regularly visit such websites will be a 16-digit code, dubbed a ‘porn pass’.

While porn viewers will still be able to verify their age using methods such as registering credit card details, the 16-digit code option would be a fully anonymous option. According to AVSecure’s the cards will be sold for £10 to anyone who looks over 18 without the need for any further identification. It doesn’t say on the website, but presumably in the case where there is doubt about a customer’s age, then they will have to show ID documents such as a passport or driving licence, but hopefully that ID will not have to be recorded anywhere.

It is hope he method will be popular among those wishing to access porn online without having to hand over personal details to X-rated sites.

The user will type in a 16 digit number into websites that belong to the AVSecure scheme. It should be popular with websites as it offers age verification to them for free (with the £10 card fee being the only source of income for the company). This is a lot better proposition for websites than most, if not all, of the other age verification companies.

AVSecure also offer an encrypted implementation via blockchain that will not allow websites to use the 16 digit number as a key to track people’s website browsing. But saying that they could still use a myriad of other standard technologies to track viewers.

The BBFC is assigned the task of deciding whether to accredit different technologies and it will be very interesting to see if they approve the AVSecure offering. It is easily the best solution to protect the safety and privacy of porn viewers, but it maybe will test the BBFC’s pragmatism to accept the most workable and safest solution for adults which is not quite fully guaranteed to protect children. Pragmatism is required as the scheme has the technical drawback of having no further checks in place once the card has been purchased. The obvious worry is that an over 18s can go around to other shops to buy several cards to pass on to their under 18 mates. Another possibility is that kids could stumble on their parent’s card and get access. Numbers shared on the web could be easily blocked if used simultaneously from different IP addresses.

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alarm clockThe BBFC is consulting on its procedures for deciding if porn websites have implemented adequately strictly such that under 18s won’t normally be able to access the website. Any websites not complying will be fined/blocked and/or pressurised by hosting/payment providers and advertisers who are willing to support the BBFC censorship.Now I’m sure that the BBFC will diligently perform their duties with fairness and consideration for all, but the trouble is that all the horrors of scamming, hacking, snooping, blackmail, privacy etc are simply not the concern of the BBFC. It is pointless to point out how the age verification will endanger porn viewers, it is not in their remit.

If a foreign website were to implement strict age verification and then pass over all the personal details and viewing habits straight to its blackmail, scamming and dirty tricks department, then this will be perfectly fine with the BBFC. It is only their job to ensure that under 18s won’t get through the ID checking.

There is a little privacy protection for porn websites with a presence in the EU, as the new GDPR rues have some generic things to say about keeping data safe. However these are mostly useless if you give your consent to the websites to use your data as they see fit. And it seems pretty easy to get consent for just about anything just be asking people to tick a box, or else not be allowed to see the porn. For example, Facebook will still be allowed to slurp all you personal data even within the constraints of GDPR, so will porn websites.

As a porn viewer, the only person who will look after you, is yourself.

The woeful flaws of this bill need addressing (by the government rather than the BBFC). We need to demand of the government: Don’t save the children by endangering their parents.

At the very least we need a class of critically private data that websites simply must not use, EVER, under any circumstances, for any reason, and regardless of nominal user consent. Any company that uses this critically private data must be liable to criminal prosecution.

Anyway there have been a few contributions to the debate in the run up to the end of the BBFC consultation.

ageid logoThe Digital Economy Act — The Truth: AgeID

20th April 2018. See  article from cbronline.com

AgeID says it wants to set the record straight on user data privacy under pending UK smut age check rules. As soon as a customer enters their login credentials, AgeID anonymises them. This ensures AgeID does not have a list of email addresses. We cannot market to them, we cannot even see them

[You always have to be a bit sceptical about claims that anonymisation protects your data. Eg if Facebook strips off your name and address and then sells your GPS track as ‘anonymised’, when in fact your address and then name can be restored by noting that you spend 12 hours a day at 32 Acacia avenue and commute to work at Snoops R Us. Perhaps more to the point of PornHub, may indeed not know that it was Damian@Green.com that hashed to 00000666, but the browsing record of 0000666 will be stored by PornHub anyway. And when the police come along and find from the ID company that Damian@Green.com hashes to 0000666 then the can simply ask PornHub to reveal the browsing history of 0000666.

backlash logo Tell the BBFC that age verification will do more harm than good

20th April 2018. See  article from backlash.org.uk

MindGeek’s age verification solution, AgeID, will inevitably have broad takeup due to their using it on their free tube sites such as PornHub. This poses a massive conflict of interest: advertising is their main source of revenue, and they have a direct profit motive to harvest data on what people like to look at. AgeID will allow them to do just that.

MindGeek have a terrible record on keeping sensitive data secure, and the resulting database will inevitably be leaked or hacked. The Ashley Madison data breach is a clear warning of what can happen when people’s sex lives are leaked into the public domain: it ruins lives, and can lead to blackmail and suicide. If this policy goes ahead without strict rules forcing age verification providers to protect user privacy, there is a genuine risk of loss of life.

Update: Marc Dorcel Issues Plea to Participate in U.K. Age-Verification Consultation

20th April 2018. See  article from xbiz.com

marc dorcel french logoFrench adult content producer Marc Dorcel has issued a plea for industry stakeholders to participate in a public consultation on the U.K.’s upcoming age-verification system for adult content. The consultation period closes on Monday. The studio said the following about participation in the BBFC public consultation:

The time of a wild internet where everyone could get immediate and open access to porn seems to be over as many governments are looking for concrete solutions to control it.

U.K. is the first one to have voted a law regarding this subject and who will apply a total blockage on porn websites which do not age verify and protect minors. Australian, Polish and French authorities are also looking very closely into this issue and are interested in the system that will be elected in the U.K.

BBFC is the organization which will define and manage the operation. In a few weeks, the BBFC will deliver the government its age-verification guidance in order to define and detail how age-verification should comply with this new law.

BBFC wants to be pragmatic and is concerned about how end users and website owners will be able to enact this measure.

The organization has launched an open consultation in order to collect the public and concerned professionals’ opinion regarding this matter here .

As a matter of fact, age-verification guideline involves a major challenge for the whole industry: age-verification processor cannot be considered neither as a gateway nor a toll. Moreover, it cannot be an instrument to gather internet users’ data or hijack traffic.

Marc Dorcel has existed since 1979 and operates on numerous platforms — TV, mobile, press, web networks. We are used to regulation authorities.

According to our point of view, the two main requirements to define an independent age-verification system that would not serve specific corporate interests are: 1st requirement — neither an authenticated adult, nor his data should belong to any processor; 2nd requirement — processor systems should freely be chosen because of their efficiency and not because of their dominant position.

We are also thinking that our industry should have two requests for the BBFC to insure a system which do not create dependency:

  • Any age-verification processor scope should be limited to a verification task without a user-registration system. As a consequence, processors could not get benefits on any data user or traffic control, customers’ verified age would independently be stored by each website or website network and users would have to age verify for any new website or network.

  • If the BBFC allows any age-verification processor to control a visitor data base and to manage login and password, they should commit to share the 18+ login/password to the other certified processors. As a consequence, users would only have one age verification enrollment on their first visit of a website, users would be able to log in with the same login/password on any age verification system to prove their age, and verified adults would not belong to any processor to avoid any dependency.

In those cases, we believe that an age-verification solution will act like a MPSP (multiple payment service provider) which processes client payments but where customers do not belong to payment processors, but to the website and where credit card numbers can be used by any processor.

We believe that any adult company concerned with the future of our business should take part in this consultation, whatever his point of view or worries are.

It is our responsibility to take our fate into our own hands.

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mark zuckerberg grinning Alexander Nix vladimir putin
Your data is safe with us.
We will follow ‘best practices’, honest!

The BBFC has launched its public consultation about its arrangements for censoring porn on the internet.

The document was clearly written before the Cambridge Analytica data abuse scandal. The BBFC gullibility in accepting the word of age verification providers and porn websites, that they will look after your data, now rather jars with what we see going on in the real world.

After all European data protection laws allow extensive use of your data, and there are absolutely no laws governing what foreign websites can do with your identity data and porn browsing history.

I think that under the current arrangements, if a Russian website were to hand over identity data and porn browsing history straight over to the Kremlin dirty tricks department, then as long as under 18s would be prohibited, then the BBFC would have to approve that website’s age verification arrangements.

Anyway there will be more debate on the subject over the coming month.

The BBFC writes:

Consultation on draft Guidance on Age-Verification Arrangements and draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers

Under section 14(1) of the Digital Economy Act 2017, all providers of online commercial pornographic services accessible from the UK will be required to carry age-verification controls to ensure that their content is not normally accessible to children.

This legislation is an important step in making the internet a safer place for children.

The BBFC was designated as the age-verification regulator under Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 on 21 February 2018.

Under section 25 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, the BBFC is required to publish two sets of Guidance: Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements and Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers .

The BBFC is now holding a public consultation on its draft Guidance on Age-Verification Arrangements and its draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers. The deadline for responses is the 23 April 2018 .

We will consider and publish responses before submitting final versions of the Guidance to the Secretary of State for approval. The Secretary of State is then required to lay the Guidance in parliament for formal approval. We support the government’s decision to allow a period of up to three months after the Guidance is formally approved before the law comes into force, in order to give industry sufficient time to comply with the legislation.

Draft Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements

Under section 25 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, the BBFC is required to publish:

“guidance about the types of arrangements for making pornographic material available that the regulator will treat as complying with section 14(1)”.

The draft Guidance on Age-Verification Arrangements sets out the criteria by which the BBFC will assess that a person has met with the requirements of section 14(1) of the Act. The draft guidance outlines good practice, such as offering choice of age-verification solutions to consumers. It also includes information about the requirements that age-verification services and online pornography providers must adhere to under data protection legislation and the role and functions of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The draft guidance also sets out the BBFC’s approach and powers in relation to online commercial pornographic services and considerations in terms of enforcement action.

Draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers

Under section 25 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, the BBFC is required to publish: “guidance for the purposes of section 21(1) and (5) about the circumstances in which it will treat services provided in the course of a business as enabling or facilitating the making available of pornographic material or extreme pornographic material”.

The draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers includes a non-exhaustive list of classes of ancillary service provider that the BBFC will consider notifying under section 21 of the Act, such as social media and search engines. The draft guidance also sets out the BBFC’s approach and powers in relation to online commercial pornographic services and considerations in terms of enforcement action.

How to respond to the consultation

We welcome views on the draft Guidance in particular in relation to the following questions:

Guidance on Age-Verification Arrangements

  • Do you agree with the BBFC’s Approach as set out in Chapter 2?

  • Do you agree with the BBFC’s Age-verification Standards set out in Chapter 3?

  • Do you have any comments with regards to Chapter 4?

The BBFC will refer any comments regarding Chapter 4 to the Information Commissioner’s Office for further consideration.

Draft Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers

  • Do you agree with the BBFC’s Approach as set out in Chapter 2?

  • Do you agree with the classes of Ancillary Service Provider set out in Chapter 3?

Please submit all responses (making reference to specific sections of the guidance where relevant) and confidentiality forms as email attachments to:

DEA-consultation@bbfc.co.uk

The deadline for responses is 23 April 2018 .

We will consider and publish responses before submitting final versions of the Guidance to the Secretary of State for approval.

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wild west character
Your data’s safe with us

The Culture Secretary has vowed to end the Wild West for tech giants amid anger at claims data from Facebook users was harvested to be used by political campaigns.

Matt Hancock warned social media companies that they could be slapped with new rules and regulations to rein them in.

It comes amid fury at claims the Facebook data of around 50 million users was taken without their permission and used by Cambridge Analytica.

The firm played a key role in mapping out the behaviour of voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election and the EU referendum campaign earlier that year.

Tory MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture select committee, has said he wants to haul Mark Zuckerberg to Parliament to explain himself.

Hancock said:

Tech companies store the data of billions of people around the world – giving an unparalleled insight into the lives and thoughts of people. And they must do more to show they are storing the data responsibly,

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open rights group 2016 logo The Open Rights Group, Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake have done a magnificent job in highlighting the dangers of mandating that porn companies verify the age of their customers.Worst case scenario

In the worst case scenario, foreign porn companies will demand official ID from porn viewers and then be able to maintain a database of the complete browsing history of those officially identified viewers.

And surely much to the alarm of the government and the newly appointed internet porn censors at the BBFC, then this worst case scenario seems to be the clear favourite to get implemented. In particular Mindgeek, with a near monopoly on free porn tube sites, is taking the lead with its Age ID scheme.

Now for some bizarre reason, the government saw no need for its age verification to offer any specific protection for porn viewers, beyond that offered by existing and upcoming data protection laws. Given some of the things that Google and Facebook do with personal data then it suggests that these laws are woefully inadequate for the context of porn viewing.  For safety and national security reasons, data identifying porn users should be kept under total lock and key, and not used for any commercial reason whatsoever.

A big flaw

But there in lies the flaw of the law. The government is mandating that all websites, including those based abroad, should verify their users without specifying any data protection requirements beyond the law of the land. The flaw is that foreign websites are simply not obliged to respect British data protection laws.

So as a topical example, there would be nothing to prevent a Russian porn site (maybe not identifying itself as Russian) from requiring ID and then passing the ID and subsequent porn browsing history straight over to its dirty tricks department.

Anyway the government has made a total pigs ear of the concept with its conservative ‘leave it to industry to find a solution’ approach’. The porn industry simply does not have the safety and security of its customers at heart. Perhaps the government should have invested in its own solution first, at least the national security implications may have pushed it into at least considering user safety and security.

Where we are at

As mentioned above campaigners have done a fine job in identifying the dangers of the government plan and these have been picked up by practically all newspapers. These seem to have chimed with readers and the entire idea seems to be accepted as dangerous. In fact I haven’t spotted anyone, not even ‘the think of the children’ charities pushing for ‘let’s just get on with it’. And so now its over to the authorities to try and convince people that they have a safe solution somewhere.

The Digital Policy Alliance

digital policy alliance logoPerhaps as part of a propaganda campaign to win over the people, parliament’s Digital Policy Alliance are just about to publish guidance on age verification policies. The alliance is a cross party group that includes, Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, who made some good points about privacy concerns whilst the bill was being forced through the House of Lords.

He said that a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) numbered 1296 is due to be published on 19 March. This will set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.

The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should work.

However the document will carry no authority and is not set to become an official British standard. He explained:

We can’t put rules about data protection into the PAS… That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can’t mandate them inside this PAS — but it’s in there as ‘you must obey the law’…

But of course Hay did not mention that Russian websites don’t have to obey British data protection law.

And next the BBFC will have a crack at reducing people’s fears

Elsewhere in the discussion, Hay suggested the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship could mandate that each site had to offer more than one age-verification provider, which would give consumers more choice.

Next the BBFC will have a crack at minimising people’s fears about age verification. It will publish its own guidance document towards the end of the month, and launch a public consultation about it.

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DCMS logoIn a press release the DCMS describes its digital strategy including a delayed introduction of internet porn censorship. The press release states:

The Strategy also reflects the Government’s ambition to make the internet safer for children by requiring age verification for access to commercial pornographic websites in the UK. In February, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was formally designated as the age verification regulator.

Our priority is to make the internet safer for children and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right. We will therefore allow time for the BBFC as regulator to undertake a public consultation on its draft guidance which will be launched later this month.

For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the Government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force. It is anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year.