In a bid to protect children, internet users in the United Kingdom will soon be forced to prove they are at least 18 years old before being allowed access to pornographic websites.
By April 2018, websites that make pornographic content available to United Kingdom users for commercial purposes-even if they are not based in the United Kingdom -will be legally required to install age verification controls, the BBC reported.
Measures to force pornography sites to check the age of United Kingdom viewers will be announced this week, signaling the next step in a government crackdown on adult online content. The legislation, which can be viewed here, requires sites that host pornographic material on a "commercial basis" to begin employing ID checks in order to verify the age of their users, with ISPs forced to prevent access to any site that refuses to do so.
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Sites face being banned in the United Kingdom if they fail to comply with tough new regulations set to be announced by the Government on Monday.
The deadline for the checks, which are being introduced to protect under-18s, was "revealed as digital minister Matt Hancock signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Act", which requires websites publishing pornography accessible in the United Kingdom "on a commercial basis" to provide ID checking software.
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Sites that refuse to cooperate face the wrath of earmarked regulator the British Board of Film Classifications.
"All this means that while we can enjoy the freedom of the web, the United Kingdom will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world", he said.
Will Gardner, the chief executive of internet safety charity Childnet, said that steps to restrict child access to adult content "are key".
The move was welcomed by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which said watching online porn could be "deeply damaging" to young people.
A new Bill introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Howe of Idlicote aims to tie up some of the loose ends in the Digital Economy Act by addressing some of the definitions of the type of content which should only be accessible behind age-verification. "It is essential to help".
"Age verification is an accident waiting to happen", said Open Rights Group's executive director Jim Killock at the time in a statement. Researchers found children were more likely to stumble upon explicit sites that access them directly.