UK porn block cancellation wasn’t a happy ending for everyone

The government’s recent decision to drop the long-planned age verification tools for online pornography may have been good news for teenage grumble fans, but not so much for the others with vested interests in the scheme coming to pass.

The companies who helped develop these verification tools for porn sites, ahead of the planned implementation, say the cancellation of the scheme has left them seriously out of pocket.

As a result companies like AgeChecked, VeriMe, AVYourself and AVSecure are seeking damages from the government to the tune of more than £3m. They’ve asked the High Court to look into the whether the government had acted legally when it decided to drop the scheme.

Related: Porn Block UK: Everything you need to know

The government reportedly decided against the scheme, which had originally been welcomed by those seeking to protect kids from potentially stumbling upon adult content, due to fears over security.

Privacy advocates had worried about the potential for data breaches if visitors to those sites were forced to reveal their identities. One of the companies involved played down the fears when speaking to the BBC.

Alaistar Graham of AgeChecked said: “The age verification sector developed technology to guarantee privacy and data security for consumers, abiding by a new standard created by the British Standards Institution. AgeChecked provides anonymous age verification, and it does not retain any personal data.”

Those against the scheme argued that it could be easily circumnavigated by horny youths and could discriminate against sites that aren’t pornographic by their nature. Sites that failed to implement the rules faced being blocked in the UK.

Other parties involved have suggested the government dropped the plans because the metrics weren’t playing well amid the possibility of a general election.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that [the porn plan] could have caused some consternation in the press,” the chief marketing officer at AVSecure Steve Winyard said.

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