I am delighted to see that the government has this weekend postponed the proposed enforcement of age verification certainly until the end of the year.
Earlier statements did suggest that adults would need to verify their age from 1st April 2018 upon viewing any sites that offered any forms of pornography. Yet within just 2 weeks of the deadline, it has been delayed. The realization that this could even be effective was ludicrous and ill thought through, and that at least another 9 months for open consultation would be required.
These were part of the new laws set out in last year’s Digital Economy Act, which appointed a new regulator, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to regulate. In a release on Saturday, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has over the weekend said it hoped new measures would be in place by the end of the year stating:
“Our priority is to make the Internet safer for children and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right. We will, therefore, allow time for the BBFC as a regulator to undertake a public consultation on its draft guidance, which will be launched later this month.
“For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force. It is anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year.”
As a woman, mother, and producer of adult films I strongly believe in ensuring that young eyes are restricted from viewing adult content.
However, I do not believe that a mandatory age verification such as the one proposed via third-party companies is the right solution. I certainly feel it would encroach on and endanger individuals’ right to their own privacy and their right to freedom of choice. As adults, we must be allowed a choice of what we personally and privately enjoy that is legally available.
Under the suggested age verification requirements, this will only prevent responsible niche producers such as myself from reaching and educating new audiences to the pleasures of adult erotica and the benefits this offers couples and individuals in their private lives.
Why will this prevent? … simply put, those looking to explore new pleasures will understandably be reluctant to enter their personal data into unknown, unpoliced and unregulated databases without any government assurances of those data-holding companies as it will be outside of my site and the privacy I offer to my members.
Indeed the irony is, that Mindgeek, the private company that owns and operates the largest share of graphic unrestricted hardcore pornography on the Internet today via its many sites, including tube sites Pornhub, YouPorn, and RedTube has been advising the government on how to implement potential age verification with their own data solution AgeID. This would ultimately provide them with an unusual amount of regulatory power and awareness of many individuals’ viewing habits.
As a responsible producer, I have, over recent weeks and months, been looking at ways of meeting the proposed guidelines that were due to come into effect in only a couple of weeks. Yet as of last weekend, 3 out of the 5 companies providing age verification solutions did not have live tangible products available, 2 of which offer a free-for-use solution to both myself and the consumer…. Which naturally rang alarm bells. None of them provided any form of open or transparent information relating to data protection or any operating guidance to their product. My questions were simple, what databases would they use, where would this data be held, what could it be used for?
Coming back to my role as a mother, I already have full control over my children’s viewing access online via my internet providers, albeit my choice of a cable operator or mobile provider, all of which have established tried and tested adult access restrictions and parental controls which simply require the ticking of a box by the payee, ie an adult and homeowner over 18.
No concerns as to who is tracking your viewing habits, no concerns over who is being sold your data history, and on top of everything it is a broad brush solution that captures all form of search. For example, try typing “wet pussy” into Google Images and I can assure you the vulgarity and explicitness of many of the images provided that will NOT be controlled via age verification solutions which will be applied to independent websites such as ours, nor would it stop any child seeing graphic imagery on Twitter, Tumblr and the many other social media platforms they can have access to. Yet my web service providers already provide me this protection.
So I do conclude I am delighted that this has rightfully been delayed in order to correctly have and encourage a greater debate and open consultation. We need to discuss the best ways to protect our young from imagery that is not intended for their eyes while protecting the vast number of law-abiding adults from having the freedom to view adult content for themselves to enjoy privately.