UK age verification requirement for porn sites delayed again amid privacy concerns

A system to restrict access to pornography online in the UK to individuals who have been verified as being of age has been delayed, apparently due to privacy and data collection concerns, Sky News reports.

The age-verification requirement was given a legal mandate with the passage of the 2017 Digital Economy Act, and was originally expected to be operational by April 2018. The government does not provide age verification, but requires pornography sites to carry out the process themselves in order to legally operate in the country.

BioID and blockchain data transfer company Pikcio partnered last year to offer websites biometric technology to meet the requirements, while MindGeek, the operator of PornHub and YouPorn and one of the industry’s largest players, also operates age verification system AgeID.

Jim Killock of Open Rights Group says privacy and data concerns are causing the delays.

“When they consulted about the shape of age verification last summer they were surprised to find that nearly everyone who wrote back to them in that consultation said this was a privacy disaster and they need to make sure people’s data doesn’t get leaked out,” he says.

Users will be required to enter an email address and password for website access, after age verification with a credit card, government ID document, or a special card sold for the purpose. The latter, which is offered by OCL, addresses concerns about privacy by not storing any user information, except that they have passed the age check, according to the company.

The system has faced criticism for not blocking access to adult material through social media, meaning it would still be available to young people, according to Sky News.

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