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martedì 18 luglio 2017

Age Verification System

Anyone accessing pornographic websites in the U.K. after April 2018 is likely to need to prove they are at least 18 years old.
The rule is expected to be announced by the U.K. government this week, under its Digital Economy Act, in an effort to use age verification to stop children viewing unsuitable material. Exact details on how age will be proven aren’t known, but a credit card system is most likely, matching methods used on gambling websites. Any pornographic websites not requiring visitors to prove their age may find access is restricted, after government regulators report them to internet service providers. Additionally, this may have an impact on the site’s ability to process payments, and the new regulations could also see non-complying sites hit with a large fine.
Matt Hancock, digital minister in the U.K., will put the program into place, and will apparently issue a statement to the House of Commons on July 17, including the phrase, “We are taking the next step to put in place the legal requirement for websites with adult content to ensure it is safely behind an age verification control,” according to The Guardian. He adds, “This means that while we can enjoy the freedom of the web, the U.K. will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world.” It’s possible a new regulatory body will be formed to oversee the new rules, while the British Board of Film Classification may handle the task at first. The BBFC certifies films and video games in the U.K. already.
There are numerous concerns over the rule, including questions over how it will be enforced, whether it will be effective, or if it amounts to censorship. It’s not clear whether credit cards will be used for age verification, or if another system such as mobile phone numbers will be offered, but either way, it’s possible databases of visitors could be created, which may be attractive targets to hackers, or present privacy concerns to those supplying age verification. The government hasn’t addressed how it will tackle websites not based or hosted in the U.K., or exactly what sites will fall under its watchful eye. Will sites that show adult content alongside non-adult content, such as Reddit, be affected, for example?
The Digital Economy Bill, or Digital Economy Act, became law in the U.K. in April. It has been debated, in one form or another, since 2010.


Australian advocacy groups welcomed the move, saying pornography contributed to unhealthy and sexist views of women and sex.
Some research suggests a link between pornography use and an increase in child-on-child sexual abuse.
"Right now, we have laws around cigarettes, we have laws around alcohol, it's [pornography] simply unsuitable for consumption by children," Liz Walker, chairwoman of Porn Harms Kids, said.
"While ever there's unfettered access, children are being harmed."
Australia's eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said her office was watching the outcomes of the UK policy closely.
"While technology solutions can help limit the types of content children can access, they cannot be used in isolation to solve the entire problem," she said.
But online privacy campaigners were concerned about the collection of users' private information.
Electronic Frontiers Australia executive officer Jon Lawrence said compulsory age verification would be an ineffective policy and the Australian public would not stand for it.
"[The age checks] are trivial to circumvent, they are not effective and they have really quite serious unintended consequences," he said.
Mr Lawrence said if people's porn surfing habits were being collected, the data could be hacked and used for malicious purposes such as blackmail.
He said protecting children from harm was important but government control of access was not the answer.
"This is just another attempt to find a technological solution to what is essentially a social problem," he said.
There was public backlash when the Rudd government tried to introduce an internet filter policy in 2007, and it was eventually dropped.
But Ms Walker said parents could not be expected to shoulder the whole responsibility of child protection.
"Pornography is deemed as a public health crisis of the digital age, and once something becomes a public health crisis it becomes a responsibility for everyone to take an active step to prevent further harm," she said.
In March, the Government supported senate references committee recommendations for more research into child exposure to online pornography.

Pornography: Support in Australia for compulsory age verification software on porn websites Laura Corrigan July 18 2017

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