Government measures to introduce an online age verification system for adult websites have come under fresh attack just weeks before they are set to be implemented amid claims they are a “privacy timebomb”.
In April, the company behind the largest mainstream test of the so-called "porn ban" - due to come into force on July 15 - refuted claims that the plan was unworkable. But now privacy campaigners at the Open Rights Group insist the data protection in place is “vague, imprecise and largely a ’tick box’ exercise”.
The Open Rights Group is particularly scathing about the standard operated by the British Board of Film Classification, which “allows commercial age verification providers to write their own privacy and security frameworks”.
It warned that the BBFC’s role is reduced to “checking whether commercial entities follow their own rules, rather than requiring them to work to a mandated set of common standards. The result is uncertainty for Internet users, who are inconsistently protected and have no way to tell which companies they can trust".
The organisation added: “With one month until roll-out, the UK porn block is a privacy timebomb."
Estimates suggest around 20 million adults in the UK watch online porn, meaning the scale of any privacy breach could be huge, yet the Government argues the new measures are necessary in order to prevent children accessing adult content online.
When it announced plans for the ID system, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: “This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online."
The Open Rights Group is now calling for the implementation to be delayed until a statutory standard of data privacy and security is in place.