18 April 2019 — Open Rights Group
Blackmail, scams and damage to people’s lives: in the name of Internet safety
This week the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that on 15 July 2019 the UK will enforce mandatory age verification for viewing online pornography.
Open Rights Group (ORG) is highly supportive of shielding children from Internet porn, but the government’s plan invites disaster. DCMS’s claim of putting “stricter measures in place to protect users’ data and privacy” falls short because the new privacy certification scheme is completely optional.
The result is that children won’t be protected in practice – but adults using age verification will be at risk of blackmail and scams following data leaks. MindGeek, which owns the vast majority of porn sites, will corner the age verification market. It claims that its products will be safe, but it lost customer records of 1 million users in 2012, and 800,000 in 2016.
There is a better way. The government needs to legislate mandatory privacy rules to prevent potentially catastrophic leaks of the public’s’ porn preferences that could lead to people being outed or having their careers destroyed.
Government must stop pushing technical solutions of limited impact.The current plan for age verification will only target a handful of sites – perhaps 100 – of the estimated 5 million adult websites available. Social media sites with porn like Reddit and Twitter are exempt.
We are calling on the government to legislate immediately and put compulsory privacy protections in place.
The press reaction to the new ‘porn ban’ has been skeptical. People are seeing through these incompetent and dangerous plans.
We’ve been highlighting the dangers across the UK this week:
Plus radio appearances on BBC Ulster (Nolan Show), Birmingham, Manchester, South East and Cornwall.
You can help us to protect privacy online. Joining ORG means we are better able to push our message to government, the media and the public.
Together we can win the fight against dangerous, unregulated age verification.
Open Rights Group