I run an online pornography service. How do I know if my service is in scope?

All online pornography services operating on a commercial basis, wherever they are based, are covered by the law. The government defines what ‘commercial basis’ means in the Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations. This includes websites which offer pornographic content for free, but which generate revenue through advertising or through 'premium' content which must be paid for.

I run an online pornography service. How do I know which Age-verification solution to use?

As the Age-verification Regulator, the BBFC can’t recommend individual solutions, but we will publish information about certified solutions here.

The BBFC is developing a voluntary certification scheme for age-verification providers. This will involve a third party audit and will include an assessment of an age-verification solution’s compliance with privacy and data security standards. Information about certified solutions will be reported here.

I run an online pornography service. How do I appeal against enforcement action by the BBFC?

Details on how to submit an appeal to the Independent Appeals Panel, will be made available before the law comes into force. For information about appeals, please click here.

I run an online pornography service. Will age-verification harm my business?

Adults only need to verify that they are over 18 and then they can continue to use your site. For more information about age-verification solutions, please see our section on age-verification certification.

I run an online pornography service. What content can I display before age-verification?

The BBFC will produce advice on what content can be displayed in front of age-verification before entry into force.

How does age-verification need to be technically implemented on a website?

The BBFC will take into account how easy it is to circumvent the integration of age-verification in the course of our assessments of age-verification arrangements under s14(1) of the Digital Economy Act. This will include, for example, whether age-verification can reasonably easily be disabled by changing browser settings. Age-verification providers should ensure that merchants have robust options for integration and be advised to use them.

What is the Age-verification Certificate?

As an additional measure to ensure that age-verification providers maintain high standards, including on privacy and data security, the BBFC has developed a voluntary certification scheme for age-verification providers, the Age-verification Certificate. This has been developed in cooperation with industry, with the support of government and in consultation with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Under the scheme, age-verification providers may choose to be independently audited by a third party and then certified by the Age-verification Regulator. The third party’s audit will include an assessment of an age-verification solution’s compliance with strict privacy and data security requirements. Read more here.

I am an age-verification provider. How can I get my solution certified?

If you are interested in having your solution certified, then please email the BBFC on avc@bbfc.co.uk.

What about audio or text only pornographic content?

All types of pornographic content are within the scope of the legislation. The legislation does not exclude audio or text from its definition of pornography. All providers of commercial online pornography to persons in the UK are required to comply with the age-verification requirement.

What is the BBFC’s Guidance?

As the age-verification regulator, the BBFC is required to produce two sets of guidance.

The Guidance on Age-Verification Arrangements sets out the criteria by which the BBFC will assess that a pornographic service has met with the requirements of section 14(1) of the Act. The guidance outlines good practice, such as offering a choice of ways for adults to age-verify. It also includes information about the requirements that age-verification services and online pornography providers must adhere to under data protection legislation and the role and functions of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers includes a non-exhaustive list of classes of ancillary service provider that the BBFC will consider notifying under section 21 of the Act, such as social media and search engines.

Both documents also set out the BBFC's approach and powers in relation to online commercial pornographic services and considerations in terms of enforcement action.

What will the BBFC do about non-compliant pornographic services?

If a service is non-compliant because they don’t have effective age-verification or they are providing extreme pornography, the BBFC has a number of enforcement powers.

These include notifying ancillary service providers like social media and search engines of non-compliant services and requesting that they withdraw their services; notifying payment service providers of credit and debit cards and requesting that they withdraw their services; and instructing internet service providers to block them.

What is extreme pornographic material?

Extreme pornographic material has a narrow definition under section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

Where can I find out more about age-verification and the Digital Economy Act 2017?

For more general FAQs, click here. For more information about the BBFC, click here.