UK to delay introducing age-verification system for online pornography

The introduction of age verification measures on porn sites to prevent underage internet users in the UK seeing explicit content is expected to be delayed for a second time, it has been reported.

The changes, the first of their kind anywhere in the world, were due to come into force on July 15, requiring porn sites by law to carry out “robust age-verification checks on users”.

Yesterday in the Dáil Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said new laws to restrict access to pornography were to be considered in the wake of the Ana Kriegel murder trial. In response to a question from Labour Party leader the Taoiseach said he was aware of the new approach in the UK and agreed that it was worth considering.

“It is a concern that pornography is so accessible to young people. And indeed so many young people learn about sex through pornography which is not an accurate representation of what is healthy in life,” Mr Varadkar said.

He suggested after a year of the UK system’s implementation, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan would seek a report from his counterparts in London “on whether this has been effective or if there have been unintended consequences”.

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New laws blocking access to porn to be considered in wake of Kriegel trial

According to the BBC, UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright is expected to today tell the House of Commons that the date will be pushed back, having already been delayed from April last year.

The reason for the delay is not clear, the corporation said.

Under the UK plans, websites that fail to implement the rules face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK internet users.

The British government there has previously said that users will be able to verify their age in a number of ways, including using traditional forms of ID such as a credit card or passport, or by buying an over-the-counter card from shops where verification would take place face-to-face.

Announcing the measures in April, UK Digital Minister 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.”

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which classifies movies in the UK, is due to be the age verification regulator.

Campaigners have raised concerns over the tools, however, warning that they could have consequences for user privacy.

The UK Government said alongside requirements for age-verification providers to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, it had created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate, which will assess the data security standards of the providers.

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