For years, Her Majesty's Government has been pursuing a plan to use the Great Firewall of Britain to block all porn sites unless they collect and retain personally identifying information on every porn user attesting to their age, thus fashioning the world's largest kompromat database, which -- thanks to the use of credit-cards as part of the verification scheme -- could be conveniently sorted by its members' net worth by would-be blackmailers.
This was meant to go into effect in July, but a month before the rollout, the project began to collapse and now it is officially dead.
It's nice to see that some of the UK's worst tech regulations sometimes die, rather than coasting into disastrous official policy on their inertia (Tabloids: "Something must be done!" Parliament: "There, we did something!").
The government's plan was to put recalcitrant sites on an official blacklist—and then require Internet service providers in the UK to block traffic from those sites. Critics warned that this approach could block access to legitimate content while doing nothing to prevent access by Brits who knew how to use a VPN.
The other big concern was about privacy. Rather than mandating that websites use a specific age verification technology, the rules would have left it up to each porn site to decide on the best method. Most sites were expected to verify users by asking for credit card numbers or information from government-issued IDs.
Critics argued it wasn't a good idea to encourage British adults to turn over identifying information to porn sites that might not have the strongest security—or the highest ethical standards. The proposed rules didn't include privacy safeguards for the identifying information sites collected—though the data would have been covered by EU-wide privacy laws.
UK porn blacklist is dead after government abandons age verification [Timothy B Lee/Ars Technica]
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