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UK To Become First Country To Bring in Age-Verification for Online Pornography

The UK will become "the first country in the world" to bring in age verification for online pornography, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The measures, which come into force on July 15, 2019, mean that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users to ensure they are 18 or over.

In its announcement this morning, the DCMS says "the move is backed by 88% of UK parents with children aged 7–17, who agree there should be robust age-verification controls in place to stop children seeing pornography online." It has also said that websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

Minister for digital Margot James said, "Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this."

The change in law is part of the government’s commitment to making the UK "the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children." It follows the publication of a whitepaper by the government department last week, which also referenced social media companies being more accountable for content on their sites.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws.

Online pornography websites have also been a goldmine for stealing user credentials. In 2018, 850,000 attempts were made to steal porn credentials according to a report by Kaspersky Labs. The attacks had been focused on paid accounts for only two sites, Pornhub and XNXX.

Ransomware has also affected users of these sites, making underage users vulnerable. According to Kaspersky's report, ransomware poses as an application. Once in use it locks the screen of the device and shows a message stating that illegal content (usually child porn) has been detected on the device, and the device has been locked. In order to unlock the device, the victim has to pay a ransom.

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