• Thursday, February 02, 2023

HEADLINE STORY

UK PM Sunak faces fresh rebellion in Conservative Party & it’s over porn-age verification

UK PM Rishi Sunak (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

British prime minister Rishi Sunak has faced a fresh rebellion from members of his embattled Conservative Party who seek tough legislation in order to make websites bring in stricter age checks to prevent children from accessing pornography.

According to a Bloomberg report, a series of amendments that are being drafted for the Online Safety Bill will propose that all porn websites must make functional age-verification systems within six months of becoming law.

The development marks the latest pushback from lawmakers in the wake of a planned rebellion by Conservative parliamentarians earlier this month, prompting the prime minister to surrender before demands for Big Tech directors to face the law if they did not remove harmful content, the report added.

The long-debated Online Safety Bill, designed to shield minors while using the internet, will begin its passage through the House of Lords on Monday (30).

The new amendments, which are likely to be debated later next month, will seek that adults prove they are over 18 years by using stringent age verification methods that are in use in online gambling — like for example, uploading an ID card or details of credit card.

This can be done via a third-party tool to confirm that a person’s identity is not linked to the porn site directly.

“What we need is an emphatic timetable and clear cut commitment to hard-gated mandatory age verification,” James Bethell, a Conservative peer who is overseeing the amendments said in an interview on Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg report.

“The current provisions are a kumbaya aspiration that leaves open too many loopholes, no enforcement and no timetable.”

While the government feels the legislation needs to remain general to keep up with changing technology, Bethell said porn is very harmful for children and needed immediate legislation.

This is not the first time, however, that policymakers have tried to introduce age checks for adult-only sites.

The Digital Economy Act of 2017 also had age verification provisions, but the government dropped them before implementation.

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