The United Kingdom’s Digital Economy Act is set to go into operation and apply its measures in full swing starting April, 2018 next year. The updated enactment regulations set forward by the United Kingdom’s legislative branch was published over on the official U.K., government website, where chapter 30 was made available, covering how the new regulatory body will address pornography and adult content on commercial websites over the course of the year.
In nine month’s time the regulatory body will be active, and websites that do not provide age checks or adult authentication services will be penalized, fined up to £250,000 (or have 5% of their qualifying income disbursed).
Back in October, 2016 when we first reported about this new measure, it was believed that the BBFC would be appointed as the regulatory body over this new age-check regulation but according to the BBC, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports stated that the institution appointed regulatory responsibilities over the enforcement of the Digital Economy Act will be determined this fall…
“We are already working closely with DCMS to ensure the effective implementation of the act,”
The BBC article also notes that the language in the act states that beyond age checks, financial information could be used as a way to determine the authenticity of the user’s age when attempting to access pornographic material from an adult website.
Some opposition to the act have claimed that requesting for credit card or financial data to verify a user’s age is both irresponsible and dangerous, especially if shady or unverified websites are requesting credit card info in order to grant access to adult material.
The worries over security and personal identification being used against users in some nefarious way is not without warrant. Data protection and privacy concerns is frequently in the news, such as Ars Technica reporting that Ashley Madison is coming under fire for not properly deleting user data for those who paid the extra fee for it, which has resulted in some hefty fines to users over the data breach and the lack of security provided for customers.
One security expert told BBC…
“There are hundreds of thousands of websites where this material can be accessed and you are not going to catch all of those.
“There’s privacy issues – you’re requiring people to effectively announce the fact they are looking at this material to the credit card authorities.
“And there’s serious security issues from requiring people to enter their credit card details into untrusted sites.
“They may well say there will be other magical ways to do the age check, but I very much doubt they will be non-discriminatory [against adults without credit cards], transparent, privacy-preserving and secure for end-users.”
According to the Digital Economy Act, if a website doesn’t comply with adding a verified age-check system to their site where they provide commercial pornography, the regulator has the authority to have the site blocked from internet users by enforcing ISPs to block the entire website, thus killing off its traffic. Sites must comply and ISPs must comply, or there will be fines handed out.
Applying the guidelines and revising the guidelines will require oversight from the U.K’s Secretary of State, but they do note that the fines will not exceed £250,000 per violation.
There’s no distinction between what sort of adult content or sexual material the Digital Economy Act refers to or will have regulatory empowerment over. However, since it seems to apply widely across any definition of “pornography”, this likely means that it will affect real life performers, SFM sites, along with anime and video game content as well.