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United Kingdom Votes To Ban Access To Porn Unless Users Can Provide Proof Of Age

Legislators in the United Kingdom have voted to put free digital pornographic material a little further out of reach of the average user.

Starting April 1, the United Kingdom will require any site, like PornHub, that provides X-rated content to its users, to obtain enough identification from each user to prove that they are of age to view naked photos.

Prospective porn consumers can either use an independent online verification system, called AgeID, which requires that users produce some government-issued form of identification (such as a driver's license), or a credit card. The process requires adult websites to add a landing page that redirects users from the UK to AgeID, where they can create a username and password and upload proof that they are over 18.

"It is a one-time verification, with a simple single sign-on for future access. If a user verifies on one AgeID protected site, they will not need to perform this verification again on any other site carrying AgeID," the UK's Metro reports.

If that seems complicated, users can also pay a fee for a "special ID card," according to the New York Post. The fee is expected to be around £4.99 (about $6.50) for use with one device, but the exact price hasn't been settled yet. The cards can be purchased from newsstands and drug stores, where a real live person can verify age. The cards work for 24 hours from the moment of purchase, and users must access the adult material using an app called Portes.

If X-rated sites don't comply with the process, they could face a whopping £250,000 ($330,000) fine and a "blanket block" by all UK internet service providers.

Porn bans like this one seem to be growing in popularity across Europe as Europeans tangle with both technological development and increasingly "woke" populations who find pornography exploitative. In Sweden, for example, not only are they looking to ban porn, but feminists there also want a pre-emptive ban on "sex robots," which they say "dehumanize" women the same way pornography does.

The ban was approved last year as part of the UK's "Digital Economy Act," which aims to keep objectional material out of the hands of anyone under the age of 18. But the Act does more than just ban porn. According to critics, it is a sweeping piece of legislation that severely strips users of their digital rights and allows government agencies to vigoriously censor content and collect and share user data.

The "porn ban" may sound useful, but it gives unprecedented powers to government agencies and ISPs, allowing them to censor "undesirable" content without much regard for objective standards. It also gives agencies the power to work with payment sites like Visa and MasterCard to cut off sources of revenue and advertising if a site runs afoul of the new law.

As for copyright infringers, the Digital Economy Act quintuples the current punishment for violating digital copyright, giving the government power to sentence "digital pirates" to as much as ten years in prison for major violations.

The new law comes alongside sweeping copyright reforms from the European Union, some of which, users fear, could make almost all web-based content subject to copyright restrictions — even memes.

 
 
 

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