PornHub Owner Unveils Age Verification Tool For The UK

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Online smut control? AgeID will be help Brits comply with the Digital Economy Act 2017 from April

The owner of major pornographic websites has revealed the online age verification tool it will use to verify the age of people seeking online smut.

Mindgeek is the company that owns a number of porn websites including Pornhub, Redtube, YouPorn and Brazzers, and it is calling the age verification tool AgeID.

From April this year, all adult websites will be required to verify the age of the people visiting them. It is one of the key policies of the Digital Economy Act 2017, and was actively backed by former PM David Cameron as a way to stop children from accessing unsuitable online material.

Age Verification

The move by Cameron was controversial, as it assumed that parents could not be trusted to install parental control software.

And it should be remembered that most ISPs in the UK have been offering network-level porn filters for some time now.

But it is reported that Mindgeek’s AgeID will be required in order to access these adult websites from April, although it is not known what form this will take and how it will confirm a person’s age (credit card, passport etc).

AheID has apparently been in use in Germany since 2015, and it seems that the tool is a one-time verification that once confirmed, will allow the person to visit any subsequent website that uses AgeID without having to re-confirm their age.

The good news apparently is that AgeID claims it will not store any personal data. Instead it will just keep “standard technical data” that will allow you to login in across multiple sites.

Data Protection

However that reassurance is unlikely to lessen concern among privacy campaigners, who fear the risk of an embarrassing data breach.

The Open Rights Group for example told the BBC that it fears a data breach is “inevitable” with the tool.

“If the age verification process continues in its current fashion, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime treasure trove of private information,” Myles Jackman, legal director of the Open Rights Group, told the BBC.

“If it gets hacked, can British citizens ever trust the government again with their data?,” he questioned. “The big issues here are privacy and security.”

Jackman said the tool would essentially drive more people to use virtual private networks (VPNs) – which mask a device’s geographical location to circumvent local restrictions.

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