BRITS will have to hand over ID to access adult websites from July 15, the Government has confirmed.

The new start date for the controversial “porn block” follows a series of delays that pushed the roll-out back from its original April 2018 kick-off.

Dubbed a “porn ban”, the new law will force 18+ websites to demand age-identification from Brits trying to log on.

It’s part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, and is ostensibly aimed at preventing children from accidentally finding extreme porn online.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online.”

We  understand that adult websites will be given a grace period of three months to begin enforcing the new rules.

The block was originally expected to come into force back in April 2018, but was pushed back to December that same year.

The Government then pushed the launch back again, with the expectation that it would come into force in early April – before Easter.

In 2018, Margot James, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said that “we can expect it to be in force by Easter of next year”.

“It has taken longer than I would have liked, but I’d balance that with a confidence that we’ve got it right.”

The BBFC, which is regulating the process, said that there will be “an implementation period before the law comes into force”.

“This will give the industry time to comply with the legislation,” the watchdog added.

UK porn block – how will it work?

The controversial porn block will restrict access to adult websites, including free porn sites like PornHub and YouPorn – which attract nearly 2billion visits a month between them worldwide.

They’ll join a number of other sites in using the AgeID system, which requires users to verify their age via an official form of ID such as a driver’s license or passport.

From April, when the new system is expected to launch, randy internet lurkers will be shown a non-pornographic “landing page”, according to AgeID spokesman James Clark.

“When a user first visits a site protected by AgeID, a landing page will appear with a prompt for the user to verify their age before they can access the site.”

“Each website will create their own non-pornographic landing page for this purpose.”

When someone first clicks on a site, they’ll be asked to register with AgeID and verify their age using a Mobile SMS, credit card, passport, or driving licence.

Users will then be able to use their AgeID username or password to access all porn sites that use AgeID – though some may use different age verification systems.

Clark said: “It is a one-time verification. Once a user has age verified once, on ANY site protected by AgeID, they will then simply pass-through or login to any other site using AgeID without needing to re-verify.”

Unlocking porn on your local high street

There’s an alternative to handing over your details online…

  • As well as registering with AgeID, Brits will also be able to access porn sites using a voucher you can buy from high street shops.
  • Thousands of shops will offer the special ID cards, which users can link to an app known as Portes.
  • Through Portes, they can then login to sites without having to hand over their email address.
  • Clark said: “The PortesCard will be available to purchase from any of the UK’s 29,000 PayPoint outlets as a voucher.
  • “It will also be available from selected high street retailers, which we can share more details on soon.
  • A unique validation code on the purchased card must be activated via the Portes app within 24 hours, otherwise it’ll expire, he added.
  • Verified users will then automatically be granted access to all sites using AgeID.
  • Each PortesCard will cost £4.99 for use on a single device, or £8.99 for use across multiple devices.

Sites face fines of up to £250,000 or a blanket block by UK internet service providers if they do not comply with the rules.

Regulators will be also able to block porn websites if they fail to show that they are denying access to under-18s.

However, there are some reservations from experts.

UK porn block branded ‘censorship’

The porn block risked creating a “sex tape black market” on social media, chat apps and even USB sticks.

Executive director Jim Killock, of the Open Rights Group, said “If children want something, they’ll generally be able to get it.”

He warned that teens risk being pushed onto more extreme material as they skirt the ban – and said that the blocking system won’t stop children accidentally seeing smut online either.

That’s because the BBFC will be focusing on “mainstream” porn sites, but won’t tackle smaller sites or social media apps like Twitter or Reddit.

And pornography will still be accessible through a simple Google Image search, which could put kids at risk.

“The government wanted to stop children who are under 12 from accidentally seeing porn,” said Jim, who heads up ORG, a non-profit aimed at preserving digital rights.

“But this just seems a very odd policy justification in the end, because the porn that children accidentally see is on Google search or Twitter, or pornographic adverts on slightly odd sites, like file-sharing sites.

“Those are probably where children most commonly accidentally see porn. But none of that is going to be blocked by this.”

Ministers have implied that the job was so difficult it warranted additional time to get right – but internet rights experts think snuffing out porn is an impossible task.

“It can be shared on USB sticks, sent by email, shared on WhatsApp,” Jim told us.

“And of course, children can guess their parents’ credentials and log into these sites that way – or steal them.

“So it’s pretty unlikely that this is really going to reduce teenagers’ access to pornography.”

He also warned that it will “increase risky behaviour” like using “free proxy sites” that might install spyware on your phone or computer.

Even worse, you could end up with a big bill – depending on how teens choose to skirt the block.

“It might increase children downloading porn from file-sharing sites, which comes with the risk that you get a letter in the post complaining that you’ve been downloading dodgy porn that belongs to a company, demanding payment.”

It’s also possible that the porn block could drive Brits underground into extreme corners of the internet.

“A censored internet will force users to circumvent the enforced controls,” said John Fokker, McAffe’s Head of Cyber Investigations.

“On the hunt for the content they want, it is likely they will search in even more dangerous places online.

“It’s paramount that people take responsibility to check the authenticity of websites before sharing any personal information,” he added.

UK Minister for Digital Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content.

“We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said: “The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

“On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.”

Jim Killock Executive Director of Open Rights Group said: “The government needs to compel companies to enforce privacy standards. The idea that they are ‘optional’ is dangerous and irresponsible.

“Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer’s paradise – of the government’s own making.

“Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government’s own fault.

“The government needs to shape up and legislate for privacy before their own policy results in people being outed, careers destroyed or suicides being provoked.”

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