Porn, in more and more countries you need an ID to watch it online

Porn, in more and more countries you need an ID to watch it online

Porn

For about three months now, anyone living in Louisiana and opening Pornhub has been faced with a new requirement: according to state laws, American who wants to watch pornography must prove that they are over eighteen years old . Before accessing the site, in fact, you are directed to a government platform where you can provide an identity document. The move comes as a result of new laws aimed at preventing children from viewing sexually explicit content. But that's just the beginning: the online age verification industry in the United States is buzzing. Since January, three other US states — Mississippi, Virginia and Utah — have copied Louisiana's approach, passing their own versions of age-verification laws. According to a recent analysis, 11 more states — from Virginia to California — have proposed regulations requiring users to confirm their age before they can watch content featuring explicit sex scenes, some of which are expected to go into effect in the coming months.

Protecting minors

But this is not a purely US phenomenon. Efforts are underway across the western world to introduce more age controls on the internet. As of 2020, regulators in Germany and France are pushing administrators of porn sites to introduce methods of verifying the age of users, and the United Kingdom and Australia are also developing their own laws on the subject. These measures follow the introduction of stricter safety standards to protect minors.

The Internet is not a place for children. However, introducing biographic verification across the web is a complex and technical issue. In 2019, the UK abandoned a multi-year plan to introduce verification methods, after experiencing numerous problems. Porn is a very sensitive subject: our preferences in the matter are extremely personal, while online data leaks can have devastating consequences. Privacy advocates, porn companies, and some regulators argue that there are significant problems with the introduction of background checks. " Concerns related to young people's access to adult websites are real and widespread; less widespread is the understanding of the limits of the various age verification tools and the new dangers they could pose – says Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center – Many regulators appear to view birth verification as a solved problem, while technologists and privacy activists, including those concerned with child protection, are instead trying to explain that it's not like that.”

For years, the only thing preventing access to online porn were little checkboxes asking users to confirm that they were of legal age. However, laws proposed around the world provide for stricter controls. Dozens of personal verification companies have recently sprung up, adopting different methods. Age can be confirmed by credit card information, a facial scan, or, as is often suggested, by checking government-issued identification documents, such as passports or driver's licenses. The verifications can be carried out by third-party companies, without sensitive information being transmitted directly to Pornhub and other portals. A European Commission document describes nine different age verification methods, some sophisticated, others very low-tech.

From theory to practice

“ Different methodologies have been approved – explains Mike Stabile , director of Public Affairs of the Free Speech Coalition – but the actual implementation and how they will work are still mysterious". According to Stabile, the porn industry is not averse to age-checking visitors to its websites, but some laws are vague and don't explain how controls should be implemented or whether all companies are required to introduce the technology. Take the case of Louisiana. The law requires websites that have at least 33 percent adult content to Verify the age of visitors In both France and Germany, regulators in recent years have asked major pornography sites to implement age verification by taking offenders to court. Germany in particular has sought to block porn site xHamster and is now taking individual porn creators to court who post adult content on sites that do not provide age verification, such as Twitter.

” Although there are several proposed age verification laws around the world, so far we are not aware of any that achieve the goal of protecting children from online material that is inappropriate for their age,” says a spokesperson for MindGeek, owner of Pornhub and other major adult sites like YouPorn and Redtube. The company says MindGeek in Louisiana is among the few that comply with the state's rules, and that the law has simply "pushed traffic to adult platforms with fewer safety measures." “ To achieve tangible results and safeguard the interests of the youngest, it is imperative to regulate not only individual websites, but the industry as a whole,” comments Alex Hawkins, vice president of porn website xHamster.

Also while lawmakers and regulators are pushing for population control, that doesn't mean users will use the new systems. For widespread adoption, people need to trust . "Forcing users to provide more sensitive information than they previously did is fundamentally against privacy," says Daly Barnett, a technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. never a certain assumption – they would still go against the basic privacy needs of the everyday internet user.” Some regulators agree with this view. The French personal data regulator, the CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libert├ęs), considered one of the most authoritative in Europe, analyzed the privacy protection of current age verification systems and found them deficient . In July 2022, the commission examined the existing population control measures and declared them to be " circumventable and intrusive ".

The CNIL is experimenting with a system in which a third party, such as a bank or provider of energy, authenticates a person's identity and age. Using encryption, the system creates a digital signature proving a user's age and then shares the information with the porn website. The French authorities have stated that they intend to introduce a government application that would allow this system to work. Simone van der Hof, professor of law and digital technologies at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, studied age verification systems under the GDPR and found that they do not comply with the European data regulation. According to Van der Hof, an age verification system should only confirm if a user is of legal age, and does not need the other information contained in a passport document. As an example, the professor refers to a system in the Netherlands which works in a similar way to the one suggested by the CNIL. However, many may not want their bank to confirm to a porn site that they are of legal age, even if the bank does not share personal information and merely approves; or they may not have the patience to go through this process when they want to access adult content.

And while age verification systems can be introduced successfully, finding ways around them isn't necessarily difficult. Reddit, Twitter and other social media sites are often not covered by laws requiring age verification on porn sites, even though adult content is easily accessible on these platforms. VPNs and the Tor anonymity service can help people bypass the rules of a region or country. Research by the University of Munich found that young people who regularly access porn sites are familiar with these methods and know how to use them. As governments around the world seek to improve online security, walls are being raised elsewhere to hinder it. The UK's controversial online safety law may require social media companies to verify the age of their users, while France's age-check measures also affect social media. Google may require personal data verification for YouTube and its other services. In Japan, people must provide documents proving they are of legal age to use Tinder. Instagram makes an age estimate based on video selfies, confirmation of friends, and IDs. On the Internet, it doesn't matter who you are, only how old you are.

This article originally appeared on sportsgaming.win US.






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