UK Age Verification Update – December 2018

It’s been a long time in the making but on Monday 17 December the UK’s House of Commons formally approved the three statutory Bills that as part of the UK Digital Economy Act, will detail both commercial online pornography guidelines together with the Regulator’s guidance on service providers and age verification solutions.

 

Background

The UK Government wish to make the UK the safest place for children to use the Internet.  Part of this means that any website that makes adult content available on a commercial basis must verify that its visitors are over 18 before allowing them access to such content.

 

When

The BBFC (the people who decide the age ratings of films) have been appointed as regulator, so they will make the rules and monitor websites for compliance.  Over the last few months they have been finalising the rules and coming up with guidance for sites that distribute adult content.

You can read about the BBFC’s role and their guidance on their website.

The BBFC are saying that the new regulations will come into force in April 2019.

 

This won’t work

As technical specialists ourselves we know all the workarounds and techniques that the determined will be able to use to circumvent any “age gates” or A/V filters.   This isn’t the point though.  The basis of the regulation is to prevent the casual surfer from stumbling on to a site that makes adult content freely available.

We don’t believe there is any argument or justification for allowing a child to view adult content whether it be deliberate or accidental and wholeheartedly support the endeavours of the UK Government and BBFC.

 

So how’s this going to work with AdultWork.com

One of the guidance documents issued by the BBFC describes what content is deemed inappropriate for children and therefore should be filtered, pixelated or otherwise obscured.

Before a user has age-verified, following content, both still images and video, is not permitted:

– detailed depictions of sexual activity (for example penetration, masturbation, oral sex)

– full frontal nudity or exposure of the breasts or genitals

– fetish themes which involve violence or aggression

– sexual poses that draw attention to breasts, genitals and/or buttocks whether exposed or not, (for example a person bending over and/or spreading their legs)

And…

Before a user has age-verified, the following is permitted: 

– Non-sexual posing in underwear or swimwear

– Non-sexual nude posing where breasts, genitals and/or buttocks are hidden by the positioning of the pose or masked by other graphics

– Images where nudity or sexual activity is fully masked by heavy pixelation or blurring

As with most things government, this is creatively ambiguous and open to interpretation.  Like everyone else however, we have little or no say in things and are mere subjects.  Mandatory age verification is going to happen in one form or another and we think it best to get our heads down and get on with providing our members with the solutions they need to remain compliant.  That doesn’t mean we can’t be creative along the way 😉

So…

As with most things on the Site how age verification plays out for you will depend on your membership type, are you Offering Services or Seeking Services.

Offering Services 

Some of this stuff has been kicking around for a while but it will all be refreshed and reviewed to ensure it meets the newly published guidelines.

Members will be able to certify that the content uploaded to their free-to-view areas is compliant with new guidelines, i.e. that it falls within the guidelines for what can be shown to visitors who have not verified their age.

Our Moderation Team will check your profile content based on your settings.

If you don’t certify that your content is OK or if you have certified but your content has not been checked yet, then all of your free to view content will appear pixelated to UK visitors who have not verified their age.

This self-certification is totally optional.  Members can continue to upload any content they want*, but those in the know will probably appreciate that there is more to be gained by having visitors being able to view some of their imagery before requiring the visitor to age-verify.  i.e. when someone arrives at the Site it makes more business-sense for them to be able to see your profile pictures and free gallery before requiring them to do anything else.  As some people will do this, your profile will not look so appealing if you do not.

All pay-to-view content such as private galleries and movie clips (and movie clip thumbnails) will be pixelated to all UK visitors until they are age verified.

We will ensure that the My Adult Sites and Developers API also provide age-verification functionality to keep those products compliant too.

Members who are using the Site from outside the UK are not subject to these regulations but need to consider where most of the Site’s traffic comes from, namely, the UK.  (Use Client Connections to understand your customers.)

Members offering services will be required to age-verify before viewing any adult content themselves, so should read on to understand how that will work.

Seeking Services

The first thing to note is that these regulations only apply to visitors from the UK.  Visitors (even British) from outside the UK will not be subject to any age verification requirements.

The second thing to note is that we have been age-verifying members for a number of years.  Anyone who has:

– bought credits with a credit card

– bought credits with a UKash voucher or PaySafeCard

– verified their mobile number

– performed the AgeVerifyMe verification (electoral role lookup)

– performed member verification

… is already age verified!

Visitors or members using the Site once the regulations come into force will be able to use the Site in the usual way but only certain pictures will appear as normal.  You will only see content from members that have certified their free-to-view content meets the requirements for non-age-verified viewers.

All other content be it free or pay-to-view will be pixelated or masked in some fashion.

Performing age verification will be incredibly simple and will not require a Site membership or for you to reveal any personal details.

– In its simplest form a visitor will be able to text a code to our adults-only SMS shortcode. If we receive it, you’re immediately age verified.

– Visitors who have age-verified with an approved industry provider will likely be automatically age verified when they arrive at the Site. The big adult site owners are working on cross-site technologies that will be linked to your browser.  They will seamlessly a/v you at any participating site of which AdultWork.com plans to be one.

– We will offer all of the available regulator-approved providers, e.g. Age ID, AVSecure, AgeChecked and VeriMe, where it makes sense to do so. Your privacy and protection is paramount to us.

– Of course we will offer our own home-grown solutions and will ensure they have been rubber-stamped by the BBFC for compliance. At the time of writing it is likely they will be the methods listed at the top of this section, SMS, credit card etc.

Any member wishing to age verify now can do so, in fact we are offering incentives to those that do!  Visit the Age Verification page to find out more.

 

In conclusion

  • Age verification is happening and not having it is pretty much indefensible.
  • AdultWork.com is committed to providing its visitors and members with the platform and tools that will enable them to remain compliant with any regulation, not just age verification.
  • Members offering services can ensure their profiles remain attractive to all visitors by performing Adult Content Certification.
  • Age verification will be a quick a simple process taking seconds to perform without exposure of personal information.

 

Links:

The Law:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/30/part/3/enacted

The Regulator:  https://www.ageverificationregulator.com/

Age Verify:  https://www.adultwork.com/AgeVerification.asp

(The Adult Content Certification settings on the Site are being reviewed.  All content will be marked non-compliant in the New Year and we will start over.)

 

* Members may only upload content that meets the requirements of the OPA and BBFC’s guidelines on extreme porn.  This is summarised in the Site’s User Agreement and “The Law”.

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