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UK delays start of age verification for porn sites

The law was originally supposed to come into effect in April, but it's now delayed until the end of the year.

Surprised Eyes

The government hopes age verification will prevent children from watching porn.

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The UK government is pushing back the start date for a new age identification law for porn sites, just two weeks before it was originally due to come into effect.

The government had previously set a deadline of April for porn sites to introduce age checks for customers or face being blocked by their ISPs and fined up to £250,000 ($350,000). But in a press release issued Saturday, it said it now expects the law "will be enforceable by the end of the year."

The introduction of age verification for porn in the UK was first announced in July 2017 and immediately garnered criticism from the industry and from privacy experts. The government hopes the rule will prevent people under the age of 18 from watching porn, but critics are concerned that an age verification system could result in the creation of a hackable database of the UK's porn habits.

The delay will now give the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the designated regulator for age verification, the opportunity to undertake a public consultation. It's set to publish draft guidance later this month.

"This is a chance for the government to rethink the absence of safeguards for privacy and security, but it is frightening to consider that this policy was two weeks away from launch before it was pulled," said Myles Jackman, legal director for digital rights organization Open Rights Group, in a statement.

"Our priority is to make the internet safer for children, and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right," said the government.

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