The UK porn block is being delayed. Again.

Samantha Lee/Business InsiderThe UK porn block was meant to come into force on July 15.
  • The UK porn block has been delayed for six months, the British government has confirmed.
  • The block, which would force porn sites to implement systems verifying users are over 18, was supposed to come into force on July 15.
  • It has already been delayed once, as it was meant to roll out in April 2018.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The UK’s impending porn age-block is to be postponed for six months due to a bureaucratic tussle with the European Union.

Sky News first reported that the block was to be delayed on Thursday morning, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright then confirmed the delay in the House of Commons.

The legislation behind the porn block was introduced in 2017 as part of the Digital Economy Act. It was originally supposed to roll out in April 2018, but was subsequently delayed until July 15 of this year.

The new rules would force porn websites to implement systems verifying their users are over 18, or risk being blocked in the UK. In practice, this would mean anyone wanting to watch porn online would need to prove they are over 18.


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The fresh delay comes after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport failed to notify the European Commission of the guidance it drew up for the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the body which was selected to regulate the porn block. Wright said that he was informed of the administrative oversight on Friday of last week.

The legislation left it up to the porn sites themselves to work out how to implement their age-verification. Solutions proposed included third-party verification via uploaded photo ID, scanning users’ faces to biometrically guess their age, and even a so-called “porn pass” – a voucher which users could obtain from a shop by showing their ID.

The block has received considerable pushback from privacy campaigners who say the legislation was irresponsible, since users’ identities could potentially be linked to the porn they watch and would be vulnerable to surveillance or a data breach.

Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group (ORG) and one of the block’s main opponents, told Business Insider in a statement:

“While it’s very embarrassing to delay age verification for the third time, this is an opportunity for the government to address the many problems that this ill-thought through policy poses. Age verification providers have warned that they are not ready; the BBFC’s standard to protect data has been shown to be ineffective. “

The BBFC released its non-compulsory age-verification data protection certificate scheme in April. Sites awarded the certificate would be able to show a green “AV” symbol. Last week,ORG published a report saying the certificate could offer little reassurance to consumers, as it was both vague and voluntary for porn sites to adopt.

“The government needs to use this delay to introduce legislation that will ensure the privacy and security of online users is protected,” said Killock.

Speaking in the Commons, Jeremy Wright said although he apologised for the delay, his apology did not signal a change in policy.

“Age-verification for online pornography needs to happen, and I believe it is the clear will of the house and those we represent that it should, and in the clear interests of our children that it must,” said Wright.

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