Queen Confirms Porn Site Age Checks Are on the Way

May 18, 2016 12:25 PM PST

LONDON — Announced today in the Queen’s Speech, the U.K. government will mandate age verification for adult entertainment websites.

The Queen today discussed the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill, which among an array of items includes faster broadband speeds and new powers for communications czar Ofcom, proposes that all websites containing sexually explicit material must check that users are over the age of 18.

The Queen’s announcement to institute mandatory age checks comes a month after the government closed a consultation that sought views from the public, including industry stakeholders, on the government’s manifesto to require age verification for access to adult sites. 

The government's consultation placed a specific target on the vast amount of free, all-you-can view porn websites that make money off advertising — adult tube sites — many of which are located outside the U.K.

The government offered a proposal that would see offending porn sites cut off from their payment providers, advertisers and other services, essentially killing their U.K. business.

The government indicated during the consultation that as the regulator of age checks on porn sites, it could be given powers to impose sanctions, which could be in the form of a civil sanction with fines or a criminal offense that could lead to incarceration.

According to the government, companies that support or provide services to offending online adult sites without proper age checks, which may include confirmation of credit card ownership to cross-checking a user's details with information on the electoral register, would be "directed" to withdraw those services if the sites are found to be noncompliant.

This could involve directing payment firms to cease processing transactions for the offending sites.

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