New porn regulation could force users to the dark spaces of the Internet, fear AgeID developers

Mindgeek, the parent company of sites Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn, and adult film production company Brazzers, has developed the AgeID system to comply with new regulations


                            New porn regulation could force users to the dark spaces of the Internet, fear AgeID developers

UK's Digital Economy Act 2017 is set to strengthen laws surrounding age-restricted websites and will make it mandatory for all users to provide proof of age and confirm that they are 18 years and above in order to access pornographic sites.

Mindgeek — the parent company of pornographic sites Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn, as well as adult film production company Brazzers — has developed the AgeID system to comply with the changing regulations. The company, however, is concerned that the inconvenience of having to verify age to access adult content may result in users moving to non-compliant sites.

"We have no concerns over meeting the requirements set forth by the law wherever they are mandated. The concerns we have are about user inconvenience, of adult traffic, shifting from compliant sites to non-compliant sites due to the way the regulator has been instructed to approach enforcement, and parents believing that age verification adequately protects their children," James Clark, Director of Communications for AgeID, told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

Age ID is concerned that the system will drive traffic from complaint sites to non-compliant sites, the spokesperson from the company said. (iStock)
Age ID is concerned that the system will drive traffic from complaint sites to non-compliant sites, the spokesperson from the company said. (iStock)

The AgeID verification will be a one time process and users will have to produce official documents to prove their eligibility. Once the verification is completed, user will be able to browse all AgeID-protected sites on multiple devices.

Clark said that the system has the "highest standards" of security. "A huge amount of work has gone into creating a system which doesn’t simply comply with the law but goes above and beyond. We have taken numerous proactive steps to demonstrate our highest standards of security and continued commitment to user privacy. AgeID aims to be the most private and secure age verification system available." Any personal data entered as part of the age verification process will not be stored with the system.

The spokesperson also added that the new process will affect traffic from the UK. "The implementation of an age verification regulation will very likely have an effect on traffic as the introduction of additional steps will inconvenience some users," Clark said.

With this system in place, UK will become the second country in Europe to implement the AgeID system. AgeID has already been successfully implemented in Germany since 2015 in compliance with the German Media Authority regulations. Clark said that it has already worked well by "verifying tens of thousands of visitors." 

"AgeID will protect children from stumbling across adult content across our network, and any site where it's implemented," said Clark, speaking on the efficiency of the system in curbing inappropriate access to adult content by minors.

He added that this could also backfire if parents depend only the law to protect children from adult content on the internet. "However, we have always felt that parents are in the best position to monitor their children’s online activity. We are concerned that the new law discourages this — we believe there is a danger that parents will cease to supervise their children’s browsing habits in the belief that the law adequately protects them."

AgeID system will come into affect in the UK by the end of 2019.