What Is The Porn Block & How Will It Affect You? There Are Some Big Changes Coming

Guille Faingold/Stocksy

In a bid to stop under-18s accessing pornographic websites, the government has announced that from July 15 age-checks will be introduced to commercial porn websites in the UK. The move has been dubbed the "porn block" and will require all sex websites that make money and run as businesses to introduce “robust” age verification procedures or risk facing a fine of up to £250,000 and being blocked by internet service providers. However, critics of the policy have said that teens will simply access porn in other ways, the loopholes are too large, and the changes may make little differences to big pornography platforms while putting smaller sex bloggers out of business.

While the porn block has come as a bit of a surprise for some it has actually been in the works for a long time, as the BBC reports. During the 2015 election the Conservative party pledged to introduce age-verification for online pornography if it won the election. It was also included in the Digital Economy Act 2017 and while it was supposed to be implemented in 2018 it has faced numerous delays.

The company that owns YouPorn and PornHub has developed the technology AgeID that will be used by those companies to verify the ages of its users. James Clark, Director of Communications at AgeID, told i-News, “first, a user can register an AgeID account using an email address and password, both of which are protected..." He continued:

“The user verifies their email address and then chooses an age verification option from our list of 3rd party providers, using options such as Mobile SMS, Credit Card, Passport, or Driving Licence.”

As BBC reports, it has also been announced that newsagents and some high street shops will sell age-verification cards to adults after carrying out an ID check. After buying a card you can type in the code imprinted on it to gain access to pornographic websites.

The key aim for the porn block is to protect under-18s from viewing adult material online. The NSPCC told the BBC, "we want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible.”

Some have been critical of how effective the porn block will be, particularly for online sex workers and sex bloggers who may need to verify the age of those using their sites. Speaking to Adrian Goldberg on BBC Radio 5 live sex blogger GIRLONTHENET said not only is age-verification software expensive but also, “the company that currently is looking to be the dominant provider (of age-verification software) is a company that already owns a huge slice of the porn pie, the websites which are the major tube sites and a lot of porn production studios. They already have a huge amount of power in the industry.” She continued:

“A lot of people, including many sex bloggers like me, have ethical issues about working with that company.”

As i-News reports, under the new laws it will only be commercial porn websites that will have to implement age-verification. That means individuals posting explicit videos or pictures will not be caught under the block and any explicit content posted to social media will not fall under the policy. A spokesman for the Department of Digital Culture, Media, and Sport told the BBC, "we know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children.”

The porn block has come at a time when the government is also questioning dating apps like Grindr and Tinder about how they protect children from sexual exploitation. While the intention behind the porn block is great and incredibly important, it is disappointing that sex bloggers and sex workers, some of whom do would not fall under the term porn in the strictest sense, may be negatively effected.