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When is the government’s porn block coming into force?

porn block
Peep show: the adult content block has been abandoned for now

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It’s not. It is a dead bill, as dead as Monty Python’s parrot. The government’s porn block is no more. Go about your, ahem, business.

The porn block was one of the daftest ideas this government has mustered, and that’s saying something for this shower. The idea was that adults seeking to watch online pornography would either need to have their age verified by a website – including age verification sites run by the porn operators themselves – or purchase a ‘porn pass’ from their local newsagent, who would first check the customer’s ID. It was almost beyond parody.

The porn block was meant to swing into effect (no more double entendres, promise) earlier this summer, but it was reported in June that the implementation had been delayed for six months.

Now, in a quietly sneaked out written statement, Nicky Morgan – this week’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – revealed the proposal has been booted into the long grass.

“Protecting children is at the heart of our online harms agenda, and is key to wider government priorities,” Morgan’s statement begins.

However, the statement goes on to conclude that the government’s “objective of coherence” (whatever the hell that means), will be “best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography.”

Morgan is pretty wooly on the reasons why this bill has been shelved, although she does mention that the “Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms” and that the objectives “will be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime”.

In other words, it appears to have finally dawned on the government that kids, adults or anyone inbetween would still easily be able to access porn online, so creating enormous, hackable, ripe-for-blackmail databases of people who ‘like a bit of blue’ was probably not the best way of protecting children from Debbie Does Droylesden.

Flippancy aside, children accessing porn online is clearly a problem. Now, perhaps, they’ll find a more sensible way of dealing with it. But I wouldn’t bank on it…

In the meantime, the VPN providers will be sobbing into their beer.

NOW READ THIS: Are VPNs legal?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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