Porn Block Blocked: UK government’s grot-stop plot stopped by legal blunder

The UK porn block – you either haven’t heard about it or you’re baffled by the mass debate over whether or not it’ll be a catastrophe. Well, the saga seems like it will continue to roll on — with another delay of at least six months now in effect.

The UK porn block could have huge ramifications… if it’s ever put in place. But that’s looking less and less likely by the month. Along with the various hoops you may need to awkwardly jump through to access porn, privacy and security concerns are massive.

Trusted Reviews has summarised all the details, meanderings and mishaps of the UK porn block to keep you informed whether the rollout happens or not.

What is the UK porn block?

The UK porn block is an initiative put forward by the UK government. The UK porn block aims to prevent children under 18 from accessing pornographic material online.

Once in place, the porn block would require all porn website users to verify their age before being allowed to access the site. If they are under 18 access would – of course – be denied.

Related: Best VPN 2019

When is the UK porn block happening?

The UK porn block continues to be the epitome of an omnishambles. After seeming like the rollout could be indefinitely delayed, the UK porn block has been delayed by “at least six months”.

The new delay is because UK government officials reportedly failed to notify the European Commission when detailing guidance for the age verification system not doing so undermines the legal basis for the system.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright confirmed the delay in a statement to Parliament. However, the delay does not seems to be indefinite as was speculated. Wright reiterated the government’s commitment to the policy.

The UK porn block has caused a whole range of concerns – including whether it would be effective, if it would be susceptible to privacy breaches and if there is even any valid basis for the block. It now appears the legal problems may have given the UK government a bit of a get-out-of-jail-free card an excuse to kick the much-maligned block further down the road.

The porn block has faced several delays – originally scheduled for April 2018. The last time it was delayed was when it was meant to come into force in April of this year.

The UK government released a statement along with the new date: “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.”

How will the UK porn block work?

For the UK porn block to work, the UK government decided an age verification tool on websites that provide porn commercially was necessary.

If the porn block is implemented, you’ll have to prove you’re over 18 to access an online porn website. Websites like PornHub, YouPorn, RedTube and Brazzers will use a tool called AgeID to verify your age.

To get past Age ID – which was built by PornHub owner MindGeek – you’ll need to prove you are at least 18 years old. Once your age is verified, you can sign in to AgeID. MindGeek says you will be able to tell the tool to log you in automatically on any AgeID using websites in the future for added convenience.

AgeID is only the tool being created by MindGeek. Different tools will likely be created by other online porn providers.

The age-verification check will be done by a third-party and can be passed in two ways. One option, you will be able to upload a scan of an age-verification document – like a passport or driving license.

Or, you can also trudge down to a store or newsagents and purchase a “porn pass” – a bit like in the olden days when you used to go and top-up your mobile phone balance, except slightly more embarrassing. The “porn pass” will cost £4.99 and will require you to verify your age with the cashier. 

The UK porn block is being regulated by the BBFC – the movie classification people – for some reason. The BBFC will check to see if porn sites are implementing an age verification system.

Will the UK porn block work?

The UK porn block – largely – seems like a waste of time. But – not only is it a waste of time – it appears to be opening up adults to a whole range of privacy risks.

Before we get to the big reason, the first folly of the UK porn block is that it only requires age verification on websites which make money from porn-viewing. The porn block – therefore – excludes popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Social media sites are surely the most likely location where underage users may stumble upon explicit images – the entire goal of the porn block.

Now we come to the UK porn block’s kryptonite – VPNs. Some users who prefer to browse the US version of Netflix or just like beefing up their security will be familiar with VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).

VPNs allow you to trick websites into thinking you are from another country. The UK porn block is just that… a UK porn block – meaning the restrictions aren’t in place in other countries, presumably because they weren’t silly enough to implement this measure.

Anyone can use a VPN – no, it isn’t illegal – and many are free. However, the better ones do often require a fee.

Related: Best VPN 2019

Is the UK porn block risking my privacy and data?

If the UK porn block does come into force, the UK government will be asking tens of millions of porn users to upload scans of important documents to the web.

The Open Rights Group called the UK porn block “a privacy timebomb”.

Why is the UK porn block happening?

So, the UK porn block seems like a pretty silly idea, right? But, maybe the UK government has good reason for wanting to prevent minors from accessing pornographic material? Wrong.

The idea of a UK porn block (officially referred to as The Digital Economy Act) emerged under David Cameron’s government in the wake of a study by the NSPCC.

The study claimed more than 50% of UK children and teenagers accidentally end up seeing porn online. This statistic whipped the UK government into a frenzy and brought us to where we are today – less risky and possibly more effective solutions like improved sex education in schools was seemingly not considered worthy.

However, the study isn’t seen as particularly rock solid. The study was based upon data from a company called OnePoll. OnePoll refers to itself as a “creative market research” company and pays people to complete online questionnaires.

OnePoll surveys have produced earth-shattering conclusions like “Fifty per cent of British adults think Mount Everest is in the UK” and “German men are the world’s worst lovers”.

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