Britain to make porn sites check that users are at least 18

Damage Experts say online pornography warps children's views of relationships

The use of credit cards is now employed by gambling sites in order to verify the age of users, but enforcing such a rule brings with it multiple risks.

As per NSPCC, over 1 million children are estimated to view porn online through free websites.

Under new powers contained in the Digital Economy Act, which passed through Parliament earlier this year, a regulator will be able to block porn websites that fail to show that they are denying access to under-18s, for instance by demanding credit card details.

"There is also nothing to ensure a free and fair market for age verification".

"We have taken steps to implement the new age verification requirement for online pornography as part of our continuing work to make the Internet safer", said digital minister Matt Hancock. The idea is to restrict anyone who is not over the legal age from viewing adult content online. The British Board of Film and Classification, which sets age limits for films, DVDs and computer games, is set to have its remit expanded to include enforcing age-verification on x-rated sites.

The new Government powers will apply to both free and paid-for websites set up by commercial porn companies, as well as sites hosted overseas.

The government has announced that by April 2018, adult websites must introduce age verification tools or face heavy fines of up to £250,000.

The NSPCC’s study found that 48 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds had viewed online pornography
The NSPCC’s study found that 48 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds had viewed online pornography

Despite the fact that new powers will be hard to implement effectively-given that so many sites are overseas which can be accessed by porn fans using, say, VPN workarounds-Hancock is convinced that "the United Kingdom will have the most robust Internet child protection measures of any country in the world".

Mr Hancock will formally begin the process with a written statement to the House of Commons on Monday.

By April 2018, websites that make pornographic content available to United Kingdom users for commercial purposes-even if they are not based in the United Kingdom -will be legally required to install age verification controls, the BBC reported.

Websites hosting pornographic material will be forced to prove that users are aged 18 or over.

The aim is to prevent children from being exposed to pornography online, which child protection charities warn can have damaging effects on their development.

Critics have bemoaned the government's draconian methods, saying that while this will make it more hard for under-18s to stumble upon porn, it will also make porn sites a prime target for hackers and place their users at great risk.

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