Online privacy

In an effort to protect children online, the UK government is to enforce age-verification systems on porn websites. This would apply for all material classified by the BBFC as 18 or R18.

Whilst many pornography sites currently ask visitors to confirm that they are 18 or over with a simple tick box, this is something that can be easily circumvented.

The verification law is set to cover all UK based sites and places the liability of age verification on the websites, enforcing fines for those that don’t comply.

Whilst many of the paid-for pornography sites require payment from a credit card – therefore limiting the number of under 18s who can access the site – many pornography websites are free and make their money from advertising. It’s those sites which will have to make the biggest change.

Simply asking users for their age before entering the site will not be considered a valid age verification method under the new government provisions.

Whilst many will welcome the new law, some are concerned that it only applies to those sites within the UK, so those based outside of the UK don’t need to comply.

Internet safety and security minister, Baroness Shield stated, “Just as we do offline, we want to make sure children are prevented from accessing pornographic content online which should only be viewed by adults.”

Protect your child online

The introduction of the regulations is to protect children and young people from what many deem as harmful material that may affect development. Whilst the law is not yet in place, it’s a good idea to protect your child online now with a few easy-to-implement measures to shield their privacy:

Privacy setting: Ensuring that your child has privacy settings across all online profiles (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) set to ‘Friends Only’ or ‘Private’ will ensure that requests will have to be sent in order to connect online.

Passwords: Rather than using predictable passwords such as your year of birth or name, create passwords with lower and uppercase letters and check their strength. Use a secure password tool such as LastPass to ensure you’re passwords are continuously updated and randomly selected.

Personal information: Be sure to make your child aware of the dangers of disclosing personal information such as an address or bank details.

With 1.4 million unique visitors to adult sites being under the age of 18 in May 2015 according to ComScore, educating children of the dangers online not only on social media but also on sites with 18+ content is something that should be high on a parent’s/guardian’s priority list.

Overall, the introduction of this law is set to protect children and young people from the world of pornography until they are classified as legally old enough. Although the tech-savvy teens of today will always find a way round such blocked content, this is the first step in the right direction.