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July 05, 2016

U.K. Bill Mandating Porn Age Verification Hits Parliament Today

UNITED KINGDOM—A bill that would make age verification mandatory for those browsing adult websites goes before the U.K. Parliament's House of Commons today. Dubbed the "Digital Economy Bill," the measure's core intent is to grant every household in the U.K. a legal right to 10Mbps broadband internet access. Other provisions of the bill—which according to U.K. outlet The Register aims to position the nation as "a world leader in the digital economy"—include the age verification requirement for adult sites and increased powers for the Office of Communications (or Ofcom, the equivalent of the U.S.'s Federal Communications Commission) to regulate the business practices of broadband providers. Perhaps the most controversial element of the bill is one that would allow U.K. government departments greater ability to share citizens' information between each other. Pertaining to the age verification portion of the 151-page bill, those found in violation of it would face a penalty of up to £250,000 or five percent of their yield, whichever is greater, as levied by a new "Age Verification Regulator" to be appointed by the government. Of particular interest is that the bill includes in its definition of applicable sites ones "making [adult content] available on the internet free of charge"—i.e. free tube sites. It also states that those subject to penalties for non-compliance include payment service providers and "ancillary service providers" including any business advertising on a non-complying site. If the bill makes it through the House of Commons, it will move on to the House of Lords this fall, and if approved there, would take effect in early 2017.

 
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