Porn websites will automatically be blocked by your internet provider this year – here’s why

Porn websites will automatically be blocked by your internet provider this year – here’s why
Age verification checks will be imposed on pornographic websites in the UK from April 2019 (Photo: Shutterstock)

A change to the law this year means X-rated websites will automatically be blocked by all internet providers, forcing users to verify their age before they can proceed.

The new law means that online pornography will only be viewable in the UK if you have proven you are aged 18 or over, with verification checks due to start appearing in the next few months

Restricted access

The legal changes are being introduced under the Digital Economy Act 2017.

The Act states that commercial providers of pornographic content should have age verification checks on their websites, in order to prevent children from viewing explicit images and videos.

This means that every visitor to a pornographic website will now have to prove that they are over 18  in order to view the content. Websites like RedTube, Pornhub and xHamster have already agreed to comply with the changes.

The government originally planned to make age verification of all pornographic content mandatory from April 2018, but the changes were delayed due to the practical challenges of implementing the law across thousands of websites.

It is now expected verification checks will be imposed in the UK from April this year.

How will the block work?

Some porn websites already feature landing pages which require visitors to state they are over 18 before the content can be accessed, although there aren’t currently any checks in place to confirm their age.

Under the Digital Economy Act, websites are required by law to use a system which checks a person’s age if they are visiting from the UK.

The age verification system a website uses can be selected by the site’s owners, and they may vary in how they work.

Changes to the law will mean online porn will only be viewable in the UK if you have proven you are over 18 (Photo: Shutterstock)
Changes to the law will mean online porn will only be viewable in the UK if you have proven you are over 18 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the UK’s porn regulator, states that pornographic websites which do the following will not be considered compliant with the new law:

  • relying solely on the user to confirm their age with no cross-checking of
    information – for example by using a ‘tick box’ system or requiring the user to
    only input their date of birth
  • using a general disclaimer, such as ‘anyone using this website will be deemed
    to be over 18′
  • accepting age-verification through the use of online payment methods which
    may not require a user to be over 18 – for example by asking for ownership confirmation of a debit card
  • checking against publicly available or otherwise easily known information, such
    as name, address and date of birth

How will age verification checks be enforced?

The BBFC will begin checking websites for age verification systems when the new law is enforced, checking the sites which receive the most visitors first.

If commercial pornographic websites do not have an age verification system in place, the BBFC can take enforcement action against them, and direct internet service providers to block access to non-compliant pornography services.

Who will have to comply?

Pornographic websites operating on a commercial basis will have to comply with the new law.

Websites are classed as commercial if their content has to be paid for, or if the person making it will be paid or receive some form of benefit.

Porn sites which have more than one third of their content falling into these categories will need to have an age verification system in place.