UK’s New Age-Check Rule For Porn Sites May Push Children to Dark Web, Govt. Report Says

UK’s New Age-Check Rule For Porn Sites May Push Children to Dark Web, Govt. Report Says

A UK government report has warned that introducing age-checks on porn sites may result in children being pushed towards “more extreme material” on the dark web.

Starting May this year, people will have to prove they are 18 before accessing UK websites.

According to UK ministers, the move is part of a plan that seeks to make the UK “the safest place in the world for children to be online”.

But an impact assessment report notes that there’s higher potential for online fraud as criminals “adapt approaches” to use “false AV systems/spoof websites and access user data.”

Another risk outlined  by it states that both adults and children “may be pushed towards ToR “ wherein they may be ”exposed to illegal activities and more extreme material.”

May Push Users Underground

Tor refers to the popular software that can be used access to the “so-called dark web”, the section of the internet that remains unreachable via a conventional browser.

According to a spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, there was “no single solution”, adding that age verification for protecting young people from “harmful pornographic content” was an important part of the government plan to secure UK’s position as a leader in online safety.

The Open Rights Group campaign has however said the government had “shot itself in the foot” by introducing the age verification policy as it would force more web users “underground”.

The campaign’s legal director Myles Jackman noted that the move increase the risk of people accessing the kind of “extremist” and “hate speech” material that Home Secretary Amber Rudd hoping to restrict.  .

The group has also raised concerns regarding privacy and security given that the personal details of the possibly millions of web users signing up for age-verified sites will be stored.

Will be Subject To Data Protection Laws

The new rules will be monitored by the British Board of Film Classification, which will mandate that internet service providers must block sites that fail to comply with the law.

The DCMS has said that it considers data security “extremely seriously” and has assured that the providers of age verification controls will be subject to data protection laws.

The department is in talks with BBFC as well as the Information Commissioner’s Office to make sure that users are protected.

The impact assessment report has also pointed out that most “adult” websites currently are based in the United States, which suggests that they will be out of reach of UK law.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock has however stated he would like to make Britain  a world leader in the regulation of web content and has claimed that “adult” sites in other countries have also adopted the age verification idea.

 

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