The UK’s New Pornography Law Explained

After multiple delays, the UK Government have finally announced that the new pornography age check law will come into force on the 15th of July 2019. Here’s how it works.

Upon loading up a pornographic site, users will enter a blank age verification page. However, instead of simply entering a date of birth to enter the site, users will now to verify the age they provide. This can be done with a passport, bank card or so-called ‘porn pass’ which can be purchased at local shops. Any website that fails to comply with these new regulations could be blocked in the UK.

For a site to be affected more than a third of its content must be pornographic. This means platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook will be unaffected.

The law only states that sites must verify their users’ ages and does not tell them how to do it. This likely means that verification methods will vary from site to site. However, MindGeek, the world’s largest porn company, already has a system ready to launch across all its sites including Pornhub, RedTube and YouPorn.

But, there are three big problems with this new legislation. Firstly, it could end up pushing more pornography onto social media sites as people try to skirt around the new restrictions.

Secondly, these age checks are easy to get passed. Those who want to watch porn could use something called a VPN, which makes it look as if your computer is in a different country, one where there are no restrictions. However, the government know that people who want porn will find a way to get it. Therefore this law is more specifically aimed at stopping children stumbling across pornographic content accidentally.

The third problem is the largest and concerns privacy. Porn sites aren’t exactly famous for their security and there are fears that hackers could expose the most private of information from millions of users. Pornhub alone has over 65 million visitors a day. If the MindGeek database where to be hacked the fallout could be catastrophic.

If security concerns can be ironed out then the law will at least provide some comfort to parents. However, it still does little to tackle the more important cultural issues at stake. In a world where pornography is replacing sex education, this law is a drop in the ocean when compared to the type of thorough and explicit conversation which we need to be having with young people about sex.

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About the author /

Calum Pearce is a Scottish video journalist with a background in music, film and politics

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