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Government wants 18+ age verification for porn websites

James Temperton
27 Oct 2014
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New measures to keep children away from porn and other adult content could see UK-based websites hidden behind age verification locks

The government wants to force UK-based adult websites to verify users are aged 18 or over under new plans to protect children from online evils. Age verification systems would block access to such websites unless a user could provide details to confirm their age. New plans would affect pornography websites and those selling weapons, although any businesses not located in the UK would be exempt.

Age-verification on adult websites would add another level of government web control. ISPs are already required to ask all customers if they want so-called family friendly web filters turned on or off.

New legislation is being drawn up by the department for culture media and sport (DCMS) and is likely to employ technology already used by some betting websites. The original plans will only affect British businesses but the government says it will "starve" any adult websites that make money in the UK.

According to The Sunday Times the age verification software will use bank-approved software and credit cards with PayPal, Visa and other recognised companies likely to be used.

Gambling websites already use age verification systems to check that people are aged 18 or over. Betfred uses software to check passport details, driver’s licence or a bank statement and similar systems are likely to be used on adult websites under the new plans.

The use of age verification on porn and weapon websites comes after the government forced UK internet providers to add adult content filters. BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have to ensure that all their customers have been asked if they want the filters turned on or off.

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