Since porn first appeared on the internet, a rousing chorus of voices has called for a workable way to ensure that this material could only be accessed by consenting adults rather than by curious children. More than two decades later, little has been done to address this situation — but that is all about to change as mandatory online age verification becomes reality — first in the EU and U.K., then beyond.
Today, proactive porn sites and top-tier market leaders rely on the free Restricted To Adults (RTA) meta label for age-restricted sites developed by the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) as their frontline defense against unauthorized access by minors — with billions of pages now protected by this self-regulatory service that was developed in response to U.S. Congressional leaders’ demands that “something be done” about kids accessing free porn on the internet. A voluntary measure that is dependent on browser-based filtering that savvy teens can easily override, however, RTA labeling does not currently provide positive identification of a site’s users; something lawmakers increasingly demand.
France is already quite strict and European law is very simple to understand and follow. Moreover we are used to managing our activities according to TV regulations which are very sophisticated in terms of minor control access.
Now with significant changes to laws in the U.K. and beyond underway, XBIZ recently asked a range of top players in the EU arena, “How are you ensuring that your company is in compliance with the latest European age verification rules and best practices?”
Their responses covered the full range of the topic, from protecting viewers, to protecting performers:
Studio 20 PR Manager Andra Chirnogeanu told XBIZ the company has always used “the strongest procedures to ensure our models are age-compliant and [we’ve] never had any age issues in all our activities.”
“It’s actually easy to be sure about that — you just ask for the ID,” Chirnogeanu explained. “And every interview that we have with a potential model means getting to know her better, and making sure she understands the job and what it implies from her part.”
Immoral Productions’ CEO Dan Leal likewise told XBIZ, “We follow all U.S. 18 USC ‘2257 guidelines when it comes to age verification of the performers.”
This comment reveals that although ‘2257 is an American law for determining, recording and archiving the age and identity of a performer, professional producers the world over attempt to abide by it.
On point, Traffic Company’s affiliate manager Wouter Groenewoud noted that age verification rules can vary from country to country, so it’s important to stay abreast of any changes.
“We have a direct line with aggregators (and carriers), so when anything changes in regard to age verification we are one of the first to know,” Groenewoud revealed. “When we receive new guidelines we will always implement them as soon as possible.”
“France is already quite strict and European law is very simple to understand and follow,” Marc Dorcel CEO Gregory Dorcel explained. “Moreover we are used to managing our activities according to TV regulations which are very sophisticated in terms of minor control access.”
SkyPrivate CMO Andrew said the company’s process for age verification is very straightforward.
“For all the users that are located in European countries with strict laws for adult content, we have implemented IP filtering,” Andrew told XBIZ. “In this way, we ensure that users can reach our content only after they verify their credit card and phone number.”
ModelCentro’s manager for Germany Yens Kramosch told XBIZ there are multiple options to ensure that every visitor has been warned about upcoming content or to verify the visitor’s age, such as “doorway pages and previews that only show censored content until the user is fully verified.”
“The most widely used option is to verify consumers by their payment, i.e. while entering the credit card details, it can be possible to verify the age of the consumer,” Kramosch explained. “In Germany, there is an option where you enter your bank account details and the tool is able to indicate if the bank account holder is older than 18 or not. No other information will be transferred or visible to the site or product.”
“Another good but hard to realize feature is live cam verification,” Kramosch added, “[where] the consumer would have to show his/her ID-card (readable) and face to the webcam and an operator on the other side would verify him as old enough or not.”
Porndoe Production’s head of business development Yannick Ferreri believes that having in-house counsel should be common practice for all adult content companies, and told XBIZ “we simply rely on ours to keep up to date with all legislation changes.”
“There are also tons of forums that one can follow and be active on as the news spreads rather quickly,” Ferreri added. “Getting the news and reacting are two different things, but in the adult industry you need to be quick on your feet.”
Stinger, TrafficPartner.com’s “make more money manager,” told XBIZ the company has been gaining experience in age verification since 2004, especially in the German market, which has long led the world in its online child protection efforts.
“Accordingly, our product teams are in line with the latest legal demands here, nonetheless making the most of it under the given possibilities and while [staying in conformance with the law],” Stinger said. “Our own in-house legal team is furthermore in constant contact with law firms, staying updated on latest developments and establishing the desired obedience.”
Vendo Services’ CTO Buddy Love told XBIZ he is skeptical about the U.K.’s new age verification law, which is set to go into effect in January.
“First, it is politically less viable today than when it was announced,” Love explains. “The Conservatives have barely held onto power and it seems that they are co-opting Labour’s agenda. And Labour is not focused on this at all.
“Second, it is incredibly difficult to implement,” Love adds. “Our preference would be a blockchain-based solution to ensure privacy, however, there needs to be a verification step. This is difficult for a number of reasons [and] we’re exploring different solutions.”
It is clear that until the ground-work is laid and official guidance given that the world of age verification and online child protection will remain fragmented — a situation seeming on the brink of change.