Adult websites to introduce age checks by April 2018

Websites with adult content will be legally obliged to introduce robust age verification processes from April 2018 under newly commenced UK legislation.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock yesterday signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Act 2017.

However, the legislation has faced criticism from rights campaigners who believe the measures may compromise privacy on the Internet.

Cybersecurity expert Dr Joss Wright from the Oxford Internet Institute told BBC News: “The timeline is unrealistic - but beyond that, this is one of the worst proposals I have seen on digital strategy.

“There are hundreds of thousands of websites where this material can be accessed and you are not going to catch all of those.

“There’s privacy issues - you’re requiring people to effectively announce the fact they are looking at this material to the credit card authorities.

“And there’s serious security issues from requiring people to enter their credit card details into untrusted sites.

“They may well say there will be other magical ways to do the age check, but I very much doubt they will be non-discriminatory, transparent, privacy-preserving and secure for end-users.”

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, added: “Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the UK’s porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style hacks.

“The Government has repeatedly refused to ensure that there is a legal duty for age verification providers to protect the privacy of web users.”