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UK to impose age verification checks on porn sites by 2017

UK to impose age verification checks on porn sites by 2017

Digital Economy Bill lays out plans for mandatory porn site age checks

According to the Digital Economy Bill unveiled by the UK Government, all British pornographic websites will have a mandatory age verification process in order to prevent children from accessing such websites accidentally or intentionally. Although, it is not clear how sites will need to do this.

The Digital Economy Bill was first announced earlier this year in the Queen’s Speech. It has the patronizing goal of “making the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy” via legislation.

While major portions of the bill concentrate on age verification for video content, its definition of “pornographic material” covers video, still images and even sound-only recordings.

This is not likely to go down well with privacy advocates, as the Open Rights Group has spoken out about the porn age check plans in the past.

“While preventing children from seeing pornography is a worthy aim, age verification is fraught with difficulties if infringements of privacy and free expression are to be avoided. We will urge caution and advocate avoiding blunt instruments such as website blocking,” the organisation said.

On Tuesday, the Digital Economy Bill was given its first reading in the House of Commons, and will now be disputed for some months before becoming law, which the government presumes to take place in spring 2017.

While the bill says that it is not all about treading on your privacy, it also says that consumers and businesses will be given a legal right to high-speed broadband under a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation. For this service, the government aims to set a minimum of 10Mbps.

There are also provisions for consumers to switch providers more effortlessly by placing the responsibility on telecoms companies to sort out the move between networks, rather than the consumer. It will also create a new right for consumers to receive automatic compensation when things go wrong with their broadband connections.

By opening key datasets for sharing, the bill wants public sector organisations to make better use of data. This could help in a number of ways, such as enhancing the delivery of services and tackling fraud and debt, said the government.

Organisations will be required to release information for research purposes to those that requests it, abiding by certain privacy conditions to make sure that the data on the public is anonymized.

Ed Vaizey, Digital economy minister explained that the proposed legislation comprises of many necessary provisions to keep the UK’s digital development on track.

“We want the UK to be a place where technology ceaselessly transforms the economy, society and government,” he said.

“The UK has always been at the forefront of technological change, and the measures in the Digital Economy Bill provide the necessary framework to make sure we remain world leaders.”

Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at consumer group said that the bill has several positivities for consumers.

“We welcome today’s commitment from the government to ensure that every UK household has the legal right to a fast broadband connection, improved switching, automatic compensation when services fail and tougher sanctions for nuisance calling,” he added.

“Telecoms are an essential service and it’s important that the measures in the Digital Economy Bill come into force quickly to ensure that mobile and broadband customers receive better service.”

Tags : agecheckDigital Economy BillPornPorn sitessitesverification
Kavita Iyer

The author Kavita Iyer

An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human

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