The End of Free Porn? Pornhub, Brazzers, YouPorn to have age verification to stop minors accessing adult content

Pornhub's new age-verification tool, AgeID, has many worried that it could track people's porn use ahead of its launch in April to comply with the Digital Economy Act 2017


                            The End of Free Porn? Pornhub, Brazzers, YouPorn to have age verification to stop minors accessing adult content

Pornhub is once again making headlines after it revealed plans to introduce AgeID, it's online age verification tool, to stop people below 18 from accessing pornographic content in the UK. The company was recently in the news for providing the city of Philadelphia lubricant to grease the city’s poles in a bid to prevent Philadelphia Eagles fans climbing them during Super Bowl LII. 

New rules set out in UK's Digital Economy Act 2017 mandate that porn viewers must prove they are over 18. Pornhub's parent company Mindgeek, which also owns pornography websites YouPorn and Brazzers, came out with AgeID to adhere to the new regulations, Daily Mail reports.

The age verification tool was originally slated to launch in April as the new rules outlined by the Digital Economy Act 2017 come into effect that month (iStock)
The age verification tool was originally slated to launch in April as the new rules outlined by the Digital Economy Act 2017 come into effect that month (iStock)

Any company that fails to verify the age will be fined £250,000 ($328,000), according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which has been selected as the regulator to enforce the new guidelines.

In a nutshell, AgeID is designed to block people under the age of 18 from accessing pornographic material online in the UK. The AgeID confirmation follows a one-time-verification format, meaning any website using the software will not repeatedly ask for age verification after the first confirmation. First-time users will be prompted to "Verify Age" and create a common login profile that works on all AgeID-enabled websites.

According to reports, age verification will require either a passport or a mobile number, and the information will later be passed on to a "government-appointed" service to confirm its accuracy.

Any company that fails to verify the age will be fined £250,000 ($328,000), according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) (iStock)
Any company that fails to verify the age will be fined £250,000 ($328,000), according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) (iStock)

That said, the move has made many uneasy. "The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous," Jim Killock, the Executive Director of the privacy group Open Rights Group, said. "They are powerless to ensure people's privacy. The major publisher, MindGeek, looks like it will dominate the AV market. We are very worried about their product, AgeID, which could track people's porn use."

Nonetheless, a MindGeek spokesman said, "AgeID has been built from the ground up with data protection, data minimization and the principles of privacy by design at its core, while also complying with the GDPR."

According to the spokesman, AgeID will not be storing any personal data entered as part of the age verification process. "Due to the encrypted nature of AgeID's login credentials, such data cannot be exposed in the unlikely event of a hack," he added.

The AgeID confirmation follows a one-time-verification format, meaning any website using the software will not repeatedly ask for age verification (Pixabay)
The AgeID confirmation follows a one-time-verification format, meaning any website using the software will not repeatedly ask for age verification (Pixabay)

It is also being claimed that MindGeek will publish the AgeID tool as a service for other third-party websites to use. 

The age verification was slated to be launched in April as the new rules outlined in the Digital Economy Act 2017 come into effect that month. However, the UK government said in a press release about the country's Digital Strategy initiative dated March 10 that the procedure "will be enforceable by the end of the year."

The delay in deployment was so that BBFC had more time to draft guidance before it is cleared by Parliament. "For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the Government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force," the press release read.