The UK government is looking to introduce age verification checks for people visiting adult websites, in a move supported by the private sector.
The proposed plan would see sites required to identify the age of visitors, by confirming their age using data already held by organisations like the NHS, banks, mobile operators or credit agencies.
However the plan would not be limited to porn and adult sites, the age verification tools would also be used for sites dealing with online gambling, tobacco, vaping and online dating.
The Digital Policy Alliance, a cross-party body giving voice to the internet and technology sector, is proposing the scheme on behalf of the relevant industries.
In a DPA document setting out the views of each industry sector, the chief executive of the Online Dating Association, George Kidd, spoke on behalf of the dating industry:
“While the primary concern in user protection is deterring fraudsters and those who may want to go online to harm or even hurt others we also work to deter the under 18s. This is a social and commercial judgement by the industry.
“There is no minimum age law to dating (imagine!) but online providers do not think it right to be involved directly with those at/under ages of consent and with those who are too young yet to make payments for services or, perhaps, to manage data and the privacy considerations.
“Dating is a kind of social networking. This is increasing mobile with 13â€18 year olds using Tinder and the like. An ability to verify age above and below 18 with certainty and without user hassle or high cost would be a huge benefit.”
This move by the private sector is an attempt to pre-empt expected government legislation that would seek age checks for all adult websites, to stop children accessing such sites.
David Cameron made the pledge to require age verification for online adult content in the Conservative manifesto before the election this year.
The proposed age blocks would access “information already on file across central and local government (including DWP and The NHS) and/or the private sector to enable service providers to reliably check the age of almost any online user, including those who wish to remain anonymous, providing the relevant regulations permit this.”
Users would only have to verify their age once for each site, and in theory, no identifying information about them would be stored.
Myles Jackman, a lawyer specialising in obscenity law told the Guardian: “This is cutting-edge censorship. We are now becoming the world leaders in censorship. And we are being watched very closely from abroad.”
Under the plan, sites which did not employ necessary age verifications would be blocked.
Find out more about the proposal here.