UK Regulator Announces Tough Measures For Porn Sites To Check Users' Age

In total, Ofcom has listed six age verification methods in the draft guidelines.

UK Regulator Announces Tough Measures For Porn Sites To Check Users' Age

UK telecom regulator Ofcom release draft guidelines for websites showing pornographic content, asking them to strengthen their age verification measures. According to Financial Times (FT), the measures include using tools such as facial recognition software and credit card details to confirm users are 18 or over. The measures, part of the UK's Online Safety Act, are meant to protect children from pornographic content, the outlet further said. This will replace the current pop-up page that simply asks user to declare that they are over the age of 18 by clicking on a button.

The Verge said that the regulator has started consultation on these guidelines from Tuesday and hopes to finalise its official guidance in about a year.

The guidelines also include having a bank account, a registered mobile number or documents that are only available to people who are 18 or older.

People who fail to adhere to the rules could be fined up to 10 per cent of annual global revenue, blocked from operating in the UK or face criminal liability for their named executives, said FT.

"The heart of the Online Safety Act is around children continuing to enjoy the internet but doing so safely," Gill Whitehead, Ofcom's director of online safety, told the outlet.

"Children are seeing pornography that can be quite violent and quite aggressive. The act is very clear that that experience must change," she added.

In total, Ofcom has listed six age verification methods in the draft guidelines. Apart from those mentioned above, users will also be asked to upload photo ID like a driver's license or passport.

The websites will be given the option to either choose from Ofcom's approaches or implement their own age verification measures so long as they're deemed to hit the "highly effective" bar demanded by the Online Safety Act, The Verge said in its report.

The guidelines further said that Ofcom will work with larger sites directly and keep tabs on smaller ones by listening to complaints, monitoring media coverage and working with frontline services.

The regulator said that average age at which children first encounter online pornography is 13. However, 27 per cent come across it at 11.