Under the Digital Economy Act 2017, all online commercial pornography services accessible from the UK are required to carry age-verification controls to prevent children from seeing content that isn’t appropriate for them. These services mainly take the form of websites and apps, and may not carry extreme pornography.
The UK Government has appointed the BBFC as the Age-verification Regulator because of our long and proven experience in classifying films, videos, websites and more, and our knowledge of online regulation.
The law will come into force on 15 July 2019.
Making the internet safer for children
The Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA) marks an important milestone in making the internet safer for children.
It’s only common sense. Offline, we put age limits on access to pornography and things like alcohol and gambling. You wouldn't let a young child go into a sex shop and look at pornography – you’d expect the shopkeeper to turn them away. The DEA enables us to offer the equivalent protection online.
The scale and ease of access through any connected device means that anyone – children included – can potentially see high-resolution, hardcore pornographic images and videos in just a couple of clicks. To make sure that children are as safe as possible online and help parents feel more in control, we need to put limits in place.
Thanks to age-verification, if a child stumbles across a pornographic website, they won't be able see any unsuitable content. So for children, pornography is no longer just a click or two away.
Preserving adults’ freedom of choice
Age-verification is not about stopping adults viewing legal online pornography. It’s about helping protect children from seeing content that isn't appropriate and could be damaging for them.
Under the terms of the Act, to access pornographic services, adults in the UK will be required to demonstrate that they are 18 or over using age-verification solutions. Confirmation that an individual is 18 or older is required. But personal identification is not.
Similar age-verification processes are already in place for UK-hosted pornographic video-on-demand services, online betting, poker, and other age-restricted products and services. So we know it works.