New porn verification rules: How the Online Safety Bill will block children from sites


A new law could change the way porn sites work in the UK. Here’s everything you need to know about the new laws for porn websites, introduced as part of the Government’s Online Safety Bill

There will be a crackdown on adult content sites in the UK under the Online Safety Bill

New legislation that strengthens the safety of internet users across the UK has been announced by the Government.

Marking Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, February 8, the digital minister Chris Philp confirmed new rules under the Online Safety Bill, a draft of which was published last May.

Under the new measures, there will be a crackdown on adult content sites in the UK, with “robust checks” conducted to ensure all users are 18 and over.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new porn laws, how it will affect you and more information on what to expect from the Online Safety Bill.

What are the new laws for porn websites?

All sites with pornographic content will have to confirm age of users
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Under the new online safety rules, any websites that publish pornography will be legally required to confirm the age of their users.

Sites can check the age either by using secure age verification technology which confirms that users possess a credit card (and are therefore at least 18), or use a third-party service to confirm someone’s age against government data.

The Government has said that sites and companies have the responsibility to decide the best way to comply with the new rules.

Ministers have also warned that if sites fail to act, Ofcom, as the sector’s regulator, will be able to fine them up to 10% of their annual global turnover or even block their site in the UK. Bosses of these sites could also be held criminally liable if they fail to co-operate with Ofcom.

Previously it was thought that only commercial porn sites that allow user-generated content had to comply with rules of the Online Safety Bill.

However, this update means that all commercial porn sites are now within the scope of the proposed new rules.

Why are porn laws changing in the UK?

Porn laws are changing because children are able to access adult content too easily online
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According to digital minister Chris Philp it has become too easy for children to access pornography online. He said: “Parents deserve peace of mind that their children are protected online from seeing things no child should see.”

He added: “We are now strengthening the Online Safety Bill so it applies to all porn sites to ensure we achieve our aim of making the internet a safer place for children.”

Andy Burrows, who is head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, also said the new rules would close the ‘Only Fans loophole’ which he explained “would have let some of the riskiest sites off the hook despite allowing children access to extremely damaging material.”

Though he praised the Government for fixing the gaps in the Online Safety Bill, he said the legislation fell short on “giving children comprehensive protection from preventable abuse and harmful content,” calling for even more strengthening of the laws and a focus on “the very top of tech companies on child safety.”

What could be added to the Online Safety Bill – how it affects you

Changes around porn laws came after MPs and peers warned that the Online Safety Bill needed to be strengthened back in December.

A report from the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill demanded more offenses be classed as illegal in the proposed legislation. It also urged ministers to criminalize paid-for scam and fraudulent advertising, cyber-flashing, content promoting self-harm as well as the deliberate sending of flashing images to people with photosensitive epilepsy.

The committee’s report added that Ofcom should be given more powers to investigate, audit and fine tech companies for breaking the rules as well as to draw up mandatory codes of practice for internet service providers.

They also called for references to harmful “content” to be changed to “regulated content and activities,” in order to ensure that it referred to how the design of certain platforms can harm users.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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