So finally after many years coming up with a stupid plan, the UK Government is about to try to control access to porn supposedly to protect our children. Apparently with little discussion and consultation it’s now about to be implemented on July 15th backed by a comprehensive UK age verification system. The United Kingdom will be the proud owner of the first advanced democratic nation to implement a nationwide ban on accessing pornography online.
It appears though they haven’t really spoke to anyone apart from a few children’s charities. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any input from anyone who knows something about technology.
First of all I’d like to state that
- a) I have kids
- b) I don’t want them looking at porn
However I still think it’s a stupid idea, but before pointing out why – here’s a quick summary of what’s going to happen.
On the 15th July, anyone visiting a Pornography site from the UK will be presented with an age verification check. Now many porn sites already have these, but currently they are merely a ‘Are you Over 18 button’ which you just have to press to confirm. There are no real checks on these buttons and this is what will fundamentally change.
All these sites will require any user from the UK to verify their email address, then their current age. There will be a variety of options to do this, including using a credit card, uploading scans of driving licenses or passports.
If you don’t like the idea of scanning your passport and uploading it to some website so you can gain access to pornography then there is another option. You can also visit a local shop or newsagent and verify your age and address there. In exchange you will be given a card or ‘porn pass’ which you can use to verify your age on the websites with a code.
Why the UK Porn Block is a Bad Idea
1) Goddamit there’s porn everywhere!
We probably all realise that there’s a lot of porn online. However it might come as surprise precisely how much. Nobody knows for sure of course, but even conservative estimates are pretty staggering. This article suggested that over 37% of the entire internet is made up from pornographic material.
Now even this is wrong there’s no doubt that there are literally millions of pages of pornography all over the internet. Much of it unregulated or posted casually in forums, social media sites, bulletin boards or shared via places like Twitter. Of course the big, legitimate multi million pound porn sites will implement these changes. However I suspect that a small website hosted in Ukraine by a bloke called Ivor who likes large breasted Grandmothers is not going to be that bothered about implementing the UK Government’s controls.
Basically one reason the porn block won’t work is because most porn sites will not bother installing the controls. In reality the only sites that will are probably never targets for kids anyway.
2) Push the Problem Underground
What inevitably happens if you start to regulate or control something like this, is that it goes underground. If you block access by age verification to established porn sites, people won’t just stop using porn they’ll just visit the sites which aren’t regulated or controlled. So instead of accessing popular or mainstream porn sites, more and more people will start using the dark web ones or those hosted in countries who don’t care about the UK’s Porno campaign.
3) A Massive Porn User Database Run by The Government
Let’s just consider what the Government is actually creating here – a massive database of millions of of UK porn users. Every person who wanted to watch porn online would have to add their details to this database. Sounds kind of intrusive? How many people would be comfortable adding their name to this list? Of course, why the hell should they ask permission and register their sexual interests with the government.
Even if you trusted the Government to protect and handle this information carefully (hmm) – the potential risks of accidents or misuse are extremely high. What if the information was compromised, and people started posting lists of teachers or clerics or police staff who were listed as ‘registered porn users’. Irrespective of the legality, the potential embarrassment and humiliation would be awful.
Hands up who wants to register their sexual preferences with the government so they can store it in a database that they promise never to use and keep safe.
4) It’s Easy to Bypass
The implementation of the technical infrastructure behind this is bound to be hopeless. They almost always are whenever Governments attempt these sort of ill thought out projects. There have already been rumours that one of the main age verification companies involved will be MindGeek using their AgeID system. The slight issue with this company is that they own three of the world’s largest porn sites, no conflict of interest there then! Although they keep that fact very quiet it should be said, nothing on there website for example.
Irrespective of how the age verification process is implemented the core problem will be that the UK Porn filter is only applied to UK people. I’m sure the French wouldn’t be too impressed if the UK Government decided which porn sites they could visit! This puts us with only one option, geo-location – determining peoples location from the IP address they connect with. So every porn site will look up the inbound connection, and if it’s from the UK then the age verification module will be implemented.
This means that every half decent VPN service can be used to bypass these blocks easily. If you ensure your VPN is connected through a Non-UK server then you’ll be completely unaffected by the UK Porn Block as it won’t apply to you. Many children are well aware of this technology as they’ve been using VPNs for years to download pirated films and music online. Unfortunately as most won’t be able to afford the fast, safe versions they’ll end up using the dodgy free VPNs that install malware and hard porn popups on your computer instead.
Anyone with the slightest technological knowledge will be able to use a VPN like Identity Cloaker to bypass the UK Porn filter with no effort whatsoever. That would mean they could watch porn without any restrictions and crucially without being added to the Government’s registered porn users list.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen – the UK porn block is a pointless, stupid and intrusive idea but if it does – do yourself a favor and use a VPN. This our favorite – the best VPN which will keep your identity completely protected if you do want to watch porn online.