The UK government has opened a consultation on “age verification”. It’s bundled in under the title of: Child Safety Online: Age Verification for Pornography.
There’s a few “gems” in the materials that show not only how big the adult industry is, but also how big an impact any proposals could have on it.
For example, the report from the panel of experts gives some very clear insights into how popular pornography is in the UK:
Studies analysing user statistics and page views have suggested that 4% of the most frequented websites in the world are pornographic (Ogas 2011). UK Internet users spend a significant amount of time and money on adult websites. ATVOD’s recent study suggested that 23% of all UK residents who went online using a PC or laptop in December 2013 visited an adult website, spending more than 1.4 billion minutes on pornographic websites that month alone (ATVOD 2014).
Pornhub reports that the UK is its second biggest source of traffic.
Short version: The UK government made promises to the electorate prior to be elected and now wants to carry through on them. They’re proposing a number of mandatory changes to how ALL websites that display “adult content” act. The goal behind all this is to stop children from accessing “adult content” too easily online. David Cameron made several clear promises in a speech from July of 2013.
One of the problems with all the proposals is that they’re also talking about putting a big burden on hosting providers, registrars, registries, ISPs and other parts of the ecosystem.
According to the UK government’s proposals ANY content that falls within the scope of adult (by their definition) would need to have an age verification system in place if they target or serve the UK market.
Our position is that all pornography – that which has received, or would receive an 18 or R18 rating from the BBFC – is in scope of our proposed approach, and should therefore have age verification controls in place.
Of course as it’s under the banner of “child protection” so it’s the kind of measure that is likely to receive broad support without much questioning.
You can read the background materials and the full consultation brief here.
The consultation opened on February 16 2016 until April 12 2016.