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Porn users in the UK will have to prove they are over the age of 18 by next year

2017-07-18
People in the UK will have to prove they are are over 18 before being allowed to access online pornography from next year. The government has announced that porn website will be legally required to run mandatory age checks by April 2018, as part of a move to make it harder for children to access explicit images online. Under new rules laid out in the digital Economy Act, users may be asked to provide credit card details in order to prove they are over the age of 18, while companies who fail to comply face being blocked by internet providers. A new regulator, expected to be the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), will oversee the changes, which were announced byDigital economy minister Matt Hancock on Monday (July 17). Mr Hancock said: "All this means that while we can enjoy the freedom of the web, the UK will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world." While the changes have been welcomed by children's groups such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), they government's plans have been criticised by those worried about internet users' right to privacy. There are fears that parting with credit card details could leaver consumers of online pornography consumers vulnerable to hacking, as was seen in the 2015 Ashley Madison scandal, when a database of users of a dating website for people seeking extra-marital affairs was hacked. Warning of the potential risks to privacy posed by the changes, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, told The Telegraph: "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. "There is also nothing to ensure a free and fair market for age verification. We are concerned that the porn company MindGeek will become the Facebook of age verification, dominating the UK market. "They would then decide what privacy risks or profiling take place for the vast majority of UK citizens." More stories: More straight guys are watching gay porn than you might think Can you guess what the most popular gay porn searches in America are?