gaystarnews.com has published an article outlining the dangers of porn viewers submitting their identity data and browsing history to age verifiers and their websites. The article explains that the dangers for gay porn viewers are even mor
pronounced that for straight viewers. The artisle illustrates this with an example:
David Bridle, the publisher of Dirty Boyz , announced in October that last month's issue of the magazine would be its last. He said:
Following the Conservative government's decision ... to press ahead with new regulations forcing websites which make money from adult content to carry an age verification system ... Dirtyboyz and its website dirtyboyz.xxx have made the decision
The new age verification system will be mostly run by large adult content companies which themselves host major "Tube" style porn sites. 'It would force online readers of Dirtyboyz to publicly declare themselves.
Open Rights Group executive director, Jim Killock, told GSN the privacy of users needs protecting:
The issue with age verification systems is that they need to know it's you. This means there's a strong likelihood that it will basically track you and know what you're watching. And that's data that could be very harmful to people.
It could cause issues in relationships. Or it could see children outed to their parents. It could mean people are subjected to scams and blackmail if that data falls into criminal hands. Government response
A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told Gay Star News:
Pornographic websites and age verification services will be subject to the UK's existing high standard of data protection legislation. The Data Protection Act 2018 provides a comprehensive and modern framework for data protection, with strong
sanctions for malpractice and enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office.
But this is bollox, the likes of Facebook and Google are allowed to sell browsing data for eg targeted advertising within the remit of GDPR. And targeted advertising could be enough in itself to out porn viewers.
UK-based porn viewers seem to be filling their boots before the government's age check kicks in as traffic to xHamster rose 6% in 2018
According to xHamster's Alex Hawkins, the trend is typical of countries in which plans to block online pornography becomes national news. It seems the more you talk about it, the more people feel invested in it as a right, he said.
The government has promised a minimum of three months for industry and the public to prepare for age verification, meaning they are likely to come into force around Easter. However this is a little unfair to websites as the BBFC has not yet
established the process by which age verification services will be kitemarked and approved as promising to keep porn viewers identity and/or browsing history acceptably safe. For the moment websites do not know which services will be deemed
Countries that have restrictions already in place showed, unsurprisingly, a decline in visitors. Traffic from China fell 81% this year, which xHamster put down to the nation's ban on VPNs and $80,000 cash rewards for people who shopped sites
hosting illegal content, like porn.
Elsewhere, the report showed an increase in the number of female visitors to the site -- up 42% in the US and 12.3% worldwide -- a trend Hawkins predicted would continue into 2019.
The government has published Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2019 which defines which websites get caught up in upcoming internet porn censorship requirements and how social media websites are excused from the censorship.
These new laws will come into force on the day that subsection (1) of section 14 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 comes fully into force. This is the section that introduces porn censorship and age verification requirements. This date has not yet
been announced but the government has promised to give at least 3 months notice.
So now websites which are more than one-third pornographic content or else those that promote themselves as pornographic will be obliged to verify the age of UK visitors under. However the law does not provide any specific protection for porn
viewers' data beyond the GDPR requirements to obtain nominal consent before using the data obtained for any purpose the websites may desire.
The BBFC and ICO will initiate a voluntary kitemark scheme so that porn websites and age verification providers can be audited as holding porn browsing data and identity details responsibly. This scheme has not yet produced any audited providers
so it seems a little unfair to demand that websites choose age verification technology before service providers are checked out.
It all seems extraordinarily dangerous for porn users to submit their identity to adult websites or age verification providers without any protection under law. The BBFC has offered worthless calls for these companies to handle data responsibly,
but so many of the world's major website companies have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, and hackers, spammers, scammers, blackmailers and identity thieves are hardly likely to take note of the BBFC's fine words eg suggesting 'best
practice' when implementing age verification.
Neil Brown, the MD of law firm decoded.legal told Sky News:
It is not clear how this age verification will be done, and whether it can be done without also have to prove identity, and there are concerns about the lack of specific privacy and security safeguards.
Even though this legislation has received quite a lot of attention, I doubt most internet users will be aware of what looks like an imminent requirement to obtain a 'porn licence' before watching pornography online.
The government's own impact assessment recognises that it is not guaranteed to succeed, and I suspect we will see an increase in advertising from providers in the near future.
It would seem particularly stupid to open one up to the dangers of have browsing and identity tracked, so surely it is time to get oneself protected with a VPN, which enables one to continue accessing porn without having to hand over identity
Kirsty Brimelow QC is the new chairwoman of the independent appeals panel for the age verification regime of the British Board of Film Classification. The panel will oversee attempts to prevent children gaining access to adult content online.
The initial term is for 3 years in the post
Parliament's Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has reported that the government's approach to internet porn censorship and age verification is fit for purpose, but asks a few important questions about how safe it is for porn viewers.
The RPC was originally set up a decade ago to help cut red tape by independently checking government estimates of how much complying with new laws and regulations would cost the private sector. Of curse all it has achieved is to watch the western
world suffocate itself in accelerating red tape to such a point that the west seems to be on a permanent course to diminishing wealth and popular unrest. One has to ask if the committee itself is fit for purpose?
Anyway in the subject of endangering porn users by setting them up for identity thieves, blackmailers and scammers, the authors write:
Risks and wider impacts. The Impact Assessment (IA) makes only limited reference to risks and wider impacts of the measure. These include the risk that adults and children may be pushed towards the dark web or related systems to avoid AV, where
they could be exposed to illegal activities and extreme material that they otherwise would never have come into contact with. The IA also recognises numerous other wider impacts, including privacy/fraud concerns linked to inputting ID data into
sites and apps.
Given the potential severity of such risks and wider impacts, the RPC believes that a more thorough consideration of each, and of the potential means to mitigate them, would have been appropriate. The RPC therefore recommends that the Department
ensures that it robustly monitors these risks and wider impacts, post-implementation.