The UK’s Digital Economy Act 2018, which goes into full force in April of this year, includes a new age verification requirement for adult websites. While this step may sound reasonable for protective parents, experts warn that this unnecessary, new limitation on how adults use the web could threaten users’ privacy.
The wide-ranging law empowers the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to ensure that users of adult sites are at least 18 years old and these requirements can be backed up by fines of up to £250,000. Not only does this give the government the power to directly regulate content and intimidate users from accessing the media of their choice, it may leave users’ data vulnerable.
The government has already began naming sites that will require the creation of an identifying account before content can be accessed. And you can expect that businesses are unlikely to be blind to any possibility some new potential profits.
Lawyer and activist Myles Jackman has warned that companies could get user’s details from these age verification checks and then sell it onto other companies for financial gain.
And that’s not the only concern experts have.
“The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous,” said Jim Killock of the privacy group Open Rights Group.
In an era where data breaches are common, UK adults will now have to live with the threat of their private proclivities being exposed by a hacked site.
Luckily, there are options for savvy web users who don’t wish to endure these “ridiculous” and “dangerous” requirements designed to give parents the false sense that their kids are “safe” from adult content, which will still be widely available on a multitude of sites, including “legitimate” sites such as Twitter and reddit that are unlikely ever to fall under the scope of this law.
A VPN with virtual location features, like our FREEDOME VPN, allows you to continue accessing the sites of your choice in the same way people outside the UK can, without offering identifying information. And FREEDOME also protects your web traffic and blocks advertising trackers.
The UK’s step toward “thought policing” suffers from a failure to understand both the realities of both the web and human nature. While it’s completely understandable that parents want to keep their kids away from porn, there are far better ways to do it that don’t require putting adults’ privacy at risk.
[Image by Rafa Garcés | Flickr]