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How the UK’s New Internet “Porn Block” Will Work

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UK flag and Big Ben representing parliament
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On July 15, 2019, the UK government will enforce an age-verification requirement for online pornography websites. Websites that don’t comply with the UK’s rules will be blocked in the country. Here’s how this online censorship system will work.

Surprised? Britons Shouldn’t Be

Many people seem surprised by this news. In fact, a recent YouGov poll found that 76% of Britons didn’t know a “porn block” was in the works.

Despite the surprise of some, this plan has been slowly forming for years. The Conservative party promised to introduce age verification for online pornography back in 2015 if it formed the government and subsequently won the election. The age verification plan became legislation several years ago in the Digital Economy Act 2017. It was initially supposed to go live back in 2018 but has seen several delays. Now, the government has scheduled the introduction for July 15, 2019.

This only affects you if you’re in the UK—or if you run a pornography website.

Pornography Websites Will Want Your ID

UK passport with laptop and smartphone
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Under this system, pornography websites must verify the age of the people who access them. The person must be at least 18 years of age. This requirement extends to both UK-based and overseas pornography websites. It’s enforced by the British Board of Film Classification.

When we say “verify,” we mean it. There’s no more clicking “Yes, I am 18 or older.” Instead, you will have to upload an ID document like a passport or driver’s license to an age verification service or buy a sort of “porn pass” in a local shop where you’ll have to show ID.

The PortesCard by AgeID will be available for “£4.99 for use on a single device, or £8.99 for use across multiple devices,” providing a way to access pornography websites without actually uploading your ID to a pornography-related online service. Britons can buy it in their local shops.

Yes, You Might Have to Upload Your ID

So, with physical cards available in shops, you might think you don’t necessarily have to upload your ID. You can just show your ID and pay with cash at a local store, right?

Slow down there. There’s no single age verification provider. The BBFC does certify a number of age-verification providers, but it doesn’t recommend any particular one to websites

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