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Film buffs will block porn sites under proposed UK laws

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Porn sites could be blocked in the UK if they don’t age-check users under newly proposed laws.

Amendments are to be made to the Digital Economy Bill later this month that will attempt to put stringent restrictions on access to adult websites. If a website that contains pornographic material doesn’t meet the requirements laid out in the bill, users will no longer be able to access them through conventional means.

Under the newly proposed legislation, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be given the powers to force ISPs to block access to the websites if they don’t enforce “tough age-verification measures”.

What’s more, the Digital Economy Bill already paves the way for the removal of payment services from websites that don’t comply.

The government says the new legislation is an effort to protect children from adult material online.

“The government is committed to keeping children safe from harmful pornographic content online and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Karen Bradley, secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport.

karen bradley(Image: Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK)

She continued: “Only adults should be allowed to view such content and we have appointed a regulator, BBFC, to make sure the right age checks are in place to make that happen. If sites refuse to comply, they should be blocked.”

According to the BBFC, the policy will even apply to websites that aren’t based in the UK:

“Overseas providers will still be incentivised to comply by the elements of the scheme, which will disrupt their income streams and ISP blocking powers greatly increase the chance of effectiveness of the whole regime.”

Speaking to the BBC, Conservative MP Claire Perry said: “This was something in the manifesto and it is supported by the overwhelming majority of people.”

She added: “Almost 80% of people say that of course we want freedom of expression on the internet, of course we want adults to be able to view content whenever they want – but just as with the offline world, where we don’t let children buy porn, we have to have a more measured approach by making sure kids are actually safer online."

But despite the apparently well-meaning intentions, there are clear concerns about the privacy of users. After all, age checks would likely involve handing over personal information to pornographic websites. And as the Ashley Madison hack showed, there can be dire consequences when information held by adult websites is exposed by malicious third parties.

There are also concerns about the broadness of the term "adult", as Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said in a statement:

“This could lead to tens of thousands of websites being blocked, despite their content being perfectly legal. In no way should this proposal be legislated for in this bill. There has been no thought or consultation, and the government has not even begun to define how blocking might be attempted.”

“They have no idea it would work well or badly, or whether there is serious enough harm to justify such a massive restriction on UK adults' access to legal material,” Killock continued. “We do, however, know that over 90% of parents manage their children’s activities online, according to Ofcom, and that 70% of households do not have children."

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What do you think of the new proposals? Let us know in the comments.

Azmodan

November 22, 2016, 5:16 am

The only thing harmful they are subjected to is the government BS that assaults them daily. Truly the hypocrisy of the UK governments is breathtaking. These scum of the earth are just a disgrace.

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