Age verification won’t block porn. But it will spell the end of ethical porn

Thanks to Girl On The Net we hope she wont mind us sharing this

Thanks to THE GUARDIAN The best British News Paper

Porn is not illegal. Please write this down on a sticky note and put it on your fridge at some point before 15 July this year, when the UK government will begin blocking porn sites. It’s important to remember that porn is not illegal, because although the aim of the new law on age verification is to prevent under-18s from accessing adult content, the actual effect will be far broader than that.

Online pornography age checks to be mandatory in UK from 15 July

The UK government is concerned about youngsters accidentally seeing porn, so for a long time it’s been exploring how to implement robust age verification checks. Not just a tick-box to say “I am over 18” (which, let’s face it, doesn’t work) but forcing adults to prove they are adults. In practical terms this means that you’ll either have to type in identifying details to prove your age (credit card number, drivers’ licence, passport) or visit a shop and show them your ID to purchase a one-off “porn pass”.

Not keen on having to register personal details to watch porn?

You’re not alone. There are huge privacy concerns – not only does it encourage users to be freer with this sensitive data, any database that collects this info will be a tempting target for hackers. Just last week a hacker was jailed for six years for blackmailing porn site users, and organisations such as the Open Rights Group have already sounded alarm bells about the huge problems with the way AV will be implemented. It turns out the government is perfectly capable of highlighting these problems without their help, though: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in an act that looked like deliberate self-parody, announced the new date in an email that it sent to hundreds of journalists … exposing all their email addresses because it forgot to use the bcc: feature.

There will be many who think a porn block sounds like a great idea. After all, isn’t porn abusive and misogynistic anyway? Those who advance this argument usually have Pornhub in mind, so I’m sorry to break it to you but even after the ban, tube sites are going nowhere. MindGeek – which owns many sites including Pornhub – will be offering its own solution, AgeID, for people to verify their age, and for other porn sites to verify their users too. The sites that will suffer most under this law are the ones that can’t afford to implement age verification measures and will therefore be blocked: independent porn sites, often ethical producers who are going it alone because they want to offer something different from mainstream sites. When these sites die, the only options left will be those that could afford to implement age verification – so hand over your data to the big boys, cough up for a “porn pass”, download a VPN or head to the dark web. If you do the latter, welcome to a world where you can also access actually illegal content such as child abuse.

The above sites might be easy to categorise, but the same is not true of all erotic content. Hilariously, the government had to exempt sites such as Twitter (there’s loads of porn on Twitter!) from its ban, but other sites that want to remain compliant must navigate murky and confusing rules. I write porn (although let’s call it erotica – nudge nudge, wink wink!) and I also record audio porn for people with visual impairments. Audio is explicitly included under the new law, while text is not. So does this mean my work is “porn” if it’s read aloud, but “not porn” if it’s just text? There’s also a rule about whether “more than a third” of the content on your site is porn, so perhaps we’ll start seeing a proliferation of porn sites that offer news, analysis and amateur dramatics alongside sexy videos. Perhaps we’ll see fewer people watching porn at all, because they are understandably afraid to register. Maybe we’ll see more people accessing illegal content via the dark web, because that’s where they had to go in order to circumvent the government’s porn ban.

The age verification law won’t just harm people like me, who use the internet as an outlet for sexual expression and a means of making a living – it will harm people like you, who enjoy sexual content. The government can only succeed in doing this if we accept their premise that sexual content is shameful, so it’s important for us to remind them it’s not. Write it on a sticky note: porn is not illegal. Humans have sex. We masturbate. Providing it is consensual, it is legal. And it’s not something to be ashamed of.

Girl on the Net is a sex blogger, feminist and big fan of ethical porn Taken from the best British Newspaper The Guardian

All STRAND WEBSITES are offering sound advice on the use of VPN’s which from a user point of view will be far sager than subscribing to one of the governments age verification systems. All your details will be private, no one will be able to see which sites you visit, no one is going to have information to hack into and use for comercial gain. Take a look at our info page here

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