What is the law and how does it impact me?

Under s14(1) of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA), all providers of online commercial pornographic material accessible from the UK are required to carry age-verification arrangements for UK consumers to ensure that their content is not normally accessible to children. The DEA also gives the BBFC powers to act where a service is making extreme pornography (as defined in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008) available to people in the UK.

The DEA requires providers of online commercial pornography to ensure those viewing their content demonstrate that they are 18 or over. This legislation is an important step in making the internet a safer place for children.

If an online commercial pornographic service does not comply with the DEA, the BBFC may use a number of enforcement powers. These include requesting ancillary service providers to withdraw services such as advertising, asking payment service providers to withdraw services, and requiring internet service providers and mobile network operators to block access to the non-compliant service.

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.

To make sure that you comply with the requirements of s14(1) of the DEA, please refer to our Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements and our Industry FAQs.