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Age-verification scheme on porn sites faces yet another delay

20th Jun 2019 - James Mildred

The Government’s flagship age-verification scheme on pornographic websites is facing yet another delay, meaning the 15 July start date will now be pushed back.

The scheme is a major part of the Government’s Digital Economy Act and a vital means of helping to protect young people from harmful and explicit content online.

It’s the first ever scheme of its kind anywhere in the world.

How it works

Under the plans, commercial providers of online pornography must have robust age-verification checks to prevent under 18-year olds from accessing adult content. 

From the moment it was first announced, the scheme has faced multiple delays but in April, the Government finally announced it would commence in July this year.

Scheme will be delayed again

But now, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said it will be a further six months (estimate) before the scheme is finally introduced.

It's all because of a bureaucratic failure. When laying the guidance in Parliament in late 2018, DCMS failed to notify the European Commission as it is required to, which means the legal basis of age-verification is undermined.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Culture Minister Jeremy Wright apologised for the delay and said the plan was to implement the scheme in approximately six months’ time.

Age-verification will protect young people

CARE strongly supports age-verification as a vital way of protecting young people online from accessing harmful content.

A major study by the NSPCC in 2016 showed that children are more likely to stumble across pornography accidently than actually seek it out. In turn, this then damages their understanding of sex and relationships.

We believe age-verification will help reduce the incidents of this happening.

Polling we commissioned back in 2015 also revealed the proposals are very popular with the public at large.

CARE’s response

Responding to the latest delay, CARE’s Communication Manager James Mildred said: “This latest delay is deeply disappointing.

“That it is the result of a bureaucratic error is frankly astonishing. The Government must apologise for this fresh delay and set out a new timetable as soon as possible.

“We strongly support age-verification as a vital way of protecting young people, giving them the same protections online as they receive offline.”

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Listen to CARE’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Chris Buttenshaw explain why age-verification will help protect children online

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