British Government set to hand over Age verification to “internet pirates”



MindGeek, the biggest internet pornography company in the world has told Sky News it will not snoop on the sexual preferences of 25 million people in the UK under new age verification laws.

However, MindGeek also plans to collect a trove of information on users, including their names, addresses, date of birth, as well as their online activities on other websites.

From April, as part of the Digital Economy Act, anyone wishing to view pornography online will have to prove they are over 18 years old.

The mechanism for age verification is being left to the private sector. Among the companies developing solutions is MindGeek, which bills itself as a leader in ‘Web Design, IT, Web Development and SEO [search engine optimisation]’.

MindGeek also runs some of the most viewed pornography sites in the world, including PornHub, YouPorn and RedTube – the so-called ‘tube’ sites – as well as production studios including Brazzers.

MindGeek anticipates signing up 25 million users in the UK to its age verification system, AgeID.

The system will require users to sign up with an email address and password, then use a third party mechanism to prove they’re over 18. User will then use AgeID to access pornographic sites around the web; AgeID will log which sites are visited.

MindGeek will charge other pornography sites to use its solution. But because of its market dominance, campaigners fear it will end up the defacto age verification standard, handing even more power to the biggest porn provider around.

A spokesperson for MindGeek told Sky News: “AgeID has been built from the ground up with data protection, data minimisation and the principles of privacy by design at its core, whilst also complying with the GDPR.”

“This is why we do not store any personal data entered during the age verification process,” Mindgeek added.

“Due to the encrypted nature of AgeID’s login credentials, such data cannot be exposed in the unlikely event of a hack.”

However, the privacy policy for AgeID details a wealth of information the site may collect. It includes name, postal address, nationality, date and place of birth, email address, mobile phone numbers and demographic information, as well as searches made on AgeID.

It notes that this information can be used by AgeID “to develop and display content and advertising tailored to your interests on our Website and other sites”.

The policy also says: “We also may use these technologies to collect information about your online activities over time and across third-party websites or other online services.”

MindGeek has suffered high profile hacks in the past, with millions of people’s personal information being stolen. A database of pornographic sites visited across the web for 25 million people in the UK would likely be a target for hackers.

Independent pornography producers in the UK are concerned about MindGeek’s potential dominance.

Pandora Blake, a producer of queer pornography, told Sky News: “MindGeek already have a monopoly on production via having bought out a lot of different production studios and distribution via the tube sites.

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