The implementation of the UK porn ID system is going badly

The quandary now proving difficult to resolve and making it harder to implement the idea.


Supporters of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union might find some solace in the fact that Brexit is not the only legal decision their government doesn't know how to implement.

Alternatively, it may make them even more frustrated – depending on whether or not they are fans of porn, but more significantly, of online freedom and privacy.

For a year now, the British government has been debating how to put in practice new regulation that would block access to pornographic websites.

The UK wants to make sure adult content on the web is viewable only by adults – who would have to somehow prove they are indeed of age, and do this publicly. The options considered by the government? “An over-the-counter card bought from a shop or uploading ID documents online,” the daily said.

The balancing act to be achieved here is to prevent children and minors from being exposed to content inappropriate and harmful to them, while allowing them to take advantage of the internet age they live in – and, at the same time, avoid endangering the privacy and freedom of grown-ups who have every right to choose to access porn material without announcing their decision to the world.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK government is finding it difficult to find that balance, and even less surprisingly, privacy concerns appear to have been the legislators' afterthought – but it is a quandary now proving difficult to resolve and making it harder to implement the idea.

“The delays have been very much to do with the fact that privacy has been considered at the last minute and they're having to try to find some way to make these services a bit safer. We should know all of the details of what they are proposing,” Jim Killock, executive director of the UK-based Open Rights Group, is quoted as saying.

Reporting about the “porn ban”, the Wired recently called it “one of the worst ideas ever“, noting that the plan, in addition to being controversial and difficult to implement, is also pointless. “Because the UK is the only country in the world mad enough to introduce a porn block, anyone with a VPN can get around it,” the website said.

The article also argues that outlawing certain behaviors doesn't make them go away – instead, it ends up pushing them into the illegal territory. Kids these days may not have heard of the US Prohibition and how it spawned “rum-running” instead of universal sobriety – but they are likely to find a way, an illegal one putting them at more risk, to gain access to the content they want.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]