U.K. Lawmakers Planning to Force Age Verification

Bob Johnson

LONDON — The U.K. government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is planning to make age verification mandatory for all adult websites.

According to reports, the law would require porn and other age-restricted sites to use the same age check tools that are already in place for gambling websites, and operators would have to install software similar to what bank and credit card companies use.

The DCMS, and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom — who monitors the bank payments system — are hammering out the rules. Leadsom reportedly will use U.K. approved companies like PayPal and Visa.

Although only U.K. sites would initially be affected, government sources said the plans would inevitably “starve” any Internet company trying to make money in the U.K.

"We take the issue of child safety online very seriously and have set out a series of robust measures, including family friendly filters, to help keep children safe online. We are always looking at ways to build on these measures to make children even safer," a DCMS spokesperson said.

Last March, ATVOD, the U.K. regulator of video-on-demand services called for a controversial plan that would allow the agency to license sexually explicit sites — but only if they have age verification checks in place.