BBFC Tapped as New Porn Age-Verification Regulator

Oct 11, 2016 2:19 PM PST

LONDON — The British Board of Film Classification has signed an agreement with the U.K. government to act as the country’s new porn age-verification regulator.

Today, BBFC Director David Austin explained the organization’s new role regulating online adult entertainment to a committee in Parliament weighing the 2016 Digital Economy Bill.

Austin discussed how the BBFC will approach those sites that are found to be in contravention to U.K. law in regards to verifying that adult content can’t be accessed by under 18s.

The BBFC’s heads of agreement deal to sign with the U.K. government was made last Thursday and made public today.

The BBFC, which was founded in 1912, is an independent, private and not-for-profit company that classifies all U.K. films, video, video games, mobile content, advertisements and trailers.

The organization, which is accountable to Parliament, now will help regulate online pornography in regards to age verification just as on-demand co-regulator ATVOD did for five years with Ofcom, Britain’s chief communications regulator, before it dissolved in January.

Austin said that the 2016 Digital Economy Bill now being weighed will “achieve a great deal” for the BBFC’s new role as the age-verification regulator. The piece of legislation, if given the OK, could impose financial penalties of up to $250,000 for noncomplying adult entertainment sites.

Austin said that the BBFC will methodically start focusing on the largest offending websites, including foreign ones, and notifying them for breaches in the U.K.’s mandatory age-verification laws.

While it will be “extremely challenging to pursue foreign websites” not complying with U.K. law, Austin said that offending sites will face a notification process that may include the filing of sanctions against sites’ business partners, such as payment providers and others that supply ancillary services.

Austin also mentioned that sanctioned sites could find web properties blocked by IP address and de-indexed from search engines.

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