The United Kingdom have proposed amendments to the Digital Economy Bill, which will see adult websites, pornographic websites and websites with content themed for those over the age of 18 having to implement age verification modules as part of the BBFC’s new role as arbiter and regulator over internet content.
The amendments by the British Parliament can be viewed over on the official Parliament website where the Digital Economy Bill is posted. Previously we wrote about the BBFC’s new role in doling out censorship and being able to sanction websites – both domestic and foreign – if they don’t meet the U.K’s new standards. Some of the more extreme sanctions could involve being de-listed from search engines.
The measures seem extreme to some, but even more than that it’s the age ratings and requests for additional information that has some Brits worried about privacy invasion and access to private and personal information based on what some content gates may require from users. Over on the 38 Degrees website Myles Jackman created a campaign in favor of privacy rights in lieu of what’s being proposed in the Digital Economy Bill, writing…
“The Digital Economy Bill currently before Parliament will introduce compulsory age verification without guaranteeing privacy protections for subscribers. This omission risks users’ personal details and private sexual preferences being exploited for commercial gain and/or leaked into the public domain.”
Jackman and others also took issue with websites having to take the brunt of the responsibility for coming up with age gates and new age verification modules for websites. It’s stated in the Digital Economy Bill that websites are responsible for the new gates and not internet service providers,with MP Claire Perry offering an explanation of how it works in the amendment, writing…
“This amendment and amendment 67 ensure that the requirement to implement age verification does not fall on ISPs but commercial sites or applications offering pornographic material; and defines internet service providers”
According to Jackman, some of the wording in the bill prohibits the display of certain acts as well as putting the financial burden on content providers, which may negatively affect those who wish to view such content from certain websites, writing…
“Consensual adult sex should not be outlawed, yet this Bill will prohibit the publication of depictions of sexual activities that are legal to perform. This Bill imposes a financial burden on free, amateur and niche commercial websites, affecting sexual minorities by denying them from freely expressing their sexuality.”
I’m sure some of you are wondering “What on Earth does this have to do with games?” Well, the reality is that the terms relating to “adult content” and “pornography” are vaguely defined. This could stretch from typical video and pictorial pornographic websites, to software and content providers that may offer digital games and material. Sites like Nutaku already have age verification in place, but what about sites that report on Nutaku software? What about websites that link to that software? What about websites that hosts trailers for that software? What about trailers and videos that could be considered 18+… would simply having age gates on the videos be enough or would the websites need them to?
There are a lot of vagaries involved and a lot of questions that have people slightly up in arms about what they feel could be a huge step backwards in personal freedoms in the United Kingdom. So far it looks as if the Digital Economy Bill is going full steam ahead and it could have some interesting effects on how internet users in the U.K., are allowed to view content deemed inappropriate by the BBFC.
You can check out the full petition over on the 38 Degrees Website.