UK government delays roll-out of controversial age verification porn laws

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The UK government is delaying plans to introduce mandatory age controls for people accessing online pornography. The policy was scheduled to take effect in April, but the Department of Digital Media, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) now says that age controls will only be enforceable "before the end of the year." Sites that do not show age verification will be blocked by ISPs and face fines of up to £ 250,000 ($ 350,000).
The policy has been controversial since its submission in July 2017. The privacy advocate warns that the law essentially creates a database of UK pornography habits controlled by the industry. ("If it is hacked, can British citizens re-trust the government with their data?" A lawyer told BBC News.) While the companies that will have to implement the controls say there are no clear guidelines on how they should operate the system.
The government has said it will leave the creation of age verification software in the hands of the industry, but the only solution made public so far is the owner of pornography MindGeek, owner of several popular sites such as PornHub, Youporn and RedTube. The rivals will have to pay to use the MindGeek system, AgeID, but the company has not said how much it will charge the others. This has worried the creators of independent porn, who fear that MindGeek uses its age verification platform to squeeze the competition.
The government says the recently announced delay will give the British Film Classification Board (BBFC), the agency responsible for ensuring that the sites submit age checks, time to draft guidelines, something that BBFC has not given information to date.
A spokesperson for DCMS said: "We are making age verification mandatory for commercial pornography sites, as part of our work to make the Internet a safer place for children, but we need to take the time to make sure that let's do well if it's going to work, and it will come into force later this year. "
The BBFC is expected to announce guidelines in the coming weeks, which must then be approved by parliament. After this happens, there will be a space of three months for the sites to prepare their solutions, which will be executable before the end of the year.

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