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[Discussion] UK Aims For Safer Adult Sites: By Providing Them Your Bank and Credit Card Numbers?


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Introduction of Age Verification Under the Online Safety Act

The UK's telecom regulator, Ofcom, is taking steps to implement age verification measures for online pornography services under the newly passed Online Safety Act. The act mandates that pornographic websites implement methods to prevent underage users from accessing their content. Ofcom has outlined several potential measures, including verification through banks or mobile networks, credit card checks, and uploading photo IDs like driver's licenses or passports. Another method under consideration is facial age estimation technology. The regulator is currently consulting on these guidelines and aims to finalize the official guidance within a year.

Privacy Concerns and Technical Challenges

The move to implement age verification for online pornography has been met with privacy concerns and technical challenges. Critics, including digital rights campaigners, have raised alarms about the potential risks of sensitive personal data being breached, collected, shared, or sold. The privacy implications are significant, with fears of blackmail, fraud, and exposure of individuals' sexual preferences. Additionally, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of these measures, as they could easily be bypassed using VPNs. Ofcom acknowledges that no solution is foolproof but asserts that these measures are still valuable in preventing accidental exposure of adult content to children.

Industry Response and Future Implementation

The response of pornographic content providers to the UK's age verification measures remains to be seen. Previous attempts by other jurisdictions to implement similar laws have seen varied responses from major industry players, with some complying and others restricting access in areas with strict age verification laws. Ofcom plans to consult further on rules for user-generated content, search engines, and social media sites in the coming year, with the aim of synchronizing these rules' implementation. The Online Safety Act carries significant penalties for non-compliance, including fines up to £18 million or 10 percent of global revenue, whichever is higher, emphasizing the seriousness of the UK government's commitment to online safety and child protection.


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Well, we tried this a few years ago, and eventually gave up on it, because it proved too difficult to implement and raised too many privacy concerns. 

I suspect this will end up going the same way. Age verification for adult content is a great idea, which I'd be 100% supportive of in theory - but in practice, every age verification method that's been proposed so far is either useless or invasive of privacy 😞

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2 hours ago, Kyng said:

Well, we tried this a few years ago, and eventually gave up on it, because it proved too difficult to implement and raised too many privacy concerns. 

I suspect this will end up going the same way. Age verification for adult content is a great idea, which I'd be 100% supportive of in theory - but in practice, every age verification method that's been proposed so far is either useless or invasive of privacy 😞

That is basically the issue I think most people have with this. The end goal is great and I think most people would agree that enforcing age limits on this content is for the best.

But stuff like this just seems very out of touch with the tech world and the problems it faces. The solution is incredibly easy for the tech-savvy youth to simply bypass or in an even worse case just avoid by going to an unregulated site, while being a massive privacy concern for the people that actually utilize it.

Not to mention the scams, I actually can't even imagine how bad people will be scammed if inputting banking and credit card information into sites becomes a norm. I mean there's a reason sites don't require this information until you're making a purchase and people still get scammed by the thousands, if not millions.

The only way I see this being a viable option, is the government actually producing their own login portal that these sites can access the API of to offer as a login method. It's not unreasonable as services like ID.me have done systems like this, but they need to provide the tools before they enforce the rules. It won't keep minors off the site, but at least it'll be a safer system for those that utilize it.

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