The UK Government announces new draft plans for age verification

On 16 October 2019, the UK Government announced that age verification for adult websites is being absorbed into a wider Online Harms Policy. This will be included in a new Government bill and as a consequence the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification will not be enforced for the time being.

The reason for this change is because the UK Government wants to deliver a more fully encompassing way to protect children online. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms. The new draft for the Online Harms Bill is due for publication in late Spring 2020.

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, released this statement:

“Protecting children is at the heart of our online harms agenda, and is key to wider government priorities. Going online can be beneficial for children, who use the internet for connecting with peers, to access educational resources and for entertainment. However, the government is concerned about the prevalence of adult content online, which is easily accessible to children, and believes it is vital that children are protected from accessing inappropriate, harmful content.

The government published the Online Harms White Paper in April this year. It proposed the establishment of a duty of care on companies to improve online safety, overseen by an independent regulator with strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Since the White Paper’s publication, the government’s proposals have continued to develop at pace. The government announced as part of the Queen’s Speech that we will publish draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is important that our policy aims and our overall policy on protecting children from online harms are developed coherently in view of these developments with the aim of bringing forward the most comprehensive approach possible to protecting children.

The government has concluded that this objective of coherence 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. The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime. This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms.

The government’s commitment to protecting children online is unwavering. Adult content is too easily accessed online and more needs to be done to protect children from harm. We want to deliver the most comprehensive approach to keeping children safe online and recognised in the Online Harms White Paper the role that technology can play in keeping all users, particularly children, safe. We are committed to the UK becoming a world-leader in the development of online safety technology and to ensure companies of all sizes have access to, and adopt, innovative solutions to improve the safety of their users. This includes age verification tools and we expect them to continue to play a key role in protecting children online.”

Age Verification is once again delayed in the UK as it morphs into something much more comprehensive. AgeGO’s technology continues to provide age verification for online businesses and is currently expanding its offering for other verticals outside of adult including gambling, tobacco, vaping, weapons, knives, chemicals, fireworks, etc. Additionally, several countries are also interested in instigating online age verification for adult content and AgeGO is investigating new potential markets in Spain, Poland, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.


Research commissioned by the BBFC shows children and teens are stumbling across pornography from an early age

New research commissioned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC.)  The report revealed that children and teenagers are watching and stumbling across pornography from an early age – in some cases as young as seven or eight.

As the designated Age-verification Regulator, and in preparation for entry into force, the BBFC has commissioned this benchmarking research to report back to parliament on the effectiveness of this new regime.

2,344 parents and young people participated in the research, which was carried out by Revealing Reality. In the online survey, more than half (51%) of 11 to 13 year olds reported that they had seen pornography at some point, rising to 66% of 14-15 year olds.

The majority of young people’s first time watching pornography was accidental, with 62% of 11-13 year olds who had seen pornography reporting that they stumbled across it unintentionally. Children described feeling “grossed out” and “confused”, particularly those who had seen pornography when they were under the age of 10.

The report also demonstrated a discrepancy between parents’ views and what children were actually experiencing. Three quarters (75%) of parents felt that their child would not have seen pornography online. But of their children, more than half (53%) said they had in fact seen it.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said: “Pornography is currently one click away for children of all ages in the UK, and this research supports the growing body of evidence that it is affecting the way young people understand healthy relationships, sex, body image and consent. The research also shows that when young children — in some cases as young as seven or eight years old — first see pornography online, it is most commonly not on purpose.”

Most children and parents interviewed believed that age-verification would prevent children from accidentally seeing pornography at a young age, and would potentially delay the age at which they are exposed to it.

83% of parents surveyed agreed that there should be age-verification controls in place for online porn. The research also showed that young people want age-verification – 47% of children felt age-verification was a good idea, with 11-13 year olds more in favour than older teenagers.

David Austin added: “It’s very encouraging to see that there is so much public support for age verification. We know that age-verification is not a ‘silver bullet’, nor should it be seen in isolation, but alongside other measures, such as education. However, age-verification significantly reduces the risk of young children stumbling across online pornography by accident as they do today. The research findings today have shown that parents and importantly, young people and children, want and need there to be stronger controls in place. ”

The report also looked into the effects of pornography on young people. 41% of young people who knew about pornography agreed that watching it made people less respectful of the opposite sex. Girls in particular spoke of their fear that aggressive depictions of sex would be seen as ‘normal’ by young male viewers of pornography, and accordingly copied in real-life sexual encounters.

The UK Government has appointed the BBFC as the Age-verification Regulator because of our long and proven experience in classifying films, videos, websites and more, and our knowledge of online regulation. The BBFC continues to work with Government to make the UK the safest place for children to be online.

The introduction of age-verification in the UK was delayed from 15 July 2019 to allow notification of the BBFC’s Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements to the European Commission under the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive. Once the standstill period under the EU TSRD is complete, the Guidance will be laid in Parliament, before entry into force.

Visti the BBFCs website for more information.

Australia is now considering age verification for adult content sites

An Australian Parliamentary committee is currently investigating how to make porn websites verify that Australian users are over 18 years of age, in a move that looks similar to the UK age verification system.

The committee will examine how age verification works for online gambling websites, and then see if that can be applied to porn sites. Australia’s strict classification regime would mean the vast majority of adult websites would be in the focus of this inquiry.

According to the inquiry’s terms of reference, the committee will examine whether such a system would push adults into unregulated markets, whether it would potentially lead to privacy breaches, and impact freedom of expression.

The committee has specifically been tasked to examine the UK’s version of this system as covered in the UK Digital Economy Act 2017.

AgeGO will update you when more information becomes available.

UK online gambling operators are required to verify the age and identity of their customers

The Gambling Commission has introduced new rules that strengthen the requirements for online gambling operators to verify the age and identity of their customers. The Commission states that in the UK the age and identify verification checks should be requested to customers before being able to place a bet or play at an online casino, including free play slot games. These changes took effect from 7th May 2019.


Who does this apply too?

The new requirements on age and identity verification apply to any operator that is offering remote gambling through their licence. This will include Casino, Bingo and Betting operators. A small number of lottery operators that provide online scratch card or instant win games will also be affected.

Previously online gambling operators were allowed to take up to 72 hours to carry out age verification checks. Unverified users could then gamble during this time period but could not withdraw any winnings until after their age was verified. The new rules will ensure that operators verify customers ages and identities faster, preventing underage gambling and protecting vulnerable players.


How does it work?

Operators must verify the age of the player before allowing access to their site. Unverified users won’t be able to deposit any funds into their account, use any free-to-play games, or receive free bets or bonuses upon registering. These changes mean that a reduction in the time to prove a customers identity is required in order to maintain a frictionless onboarding journey, giving customers the fastest possible access to paid services.

The new legislation also requires licensed operators who offer online gambling channels to:

  • Verify, as a minimum, the name, address and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble or deposit funds.
  • Ask for any additional verification information promptly.
  • Inform customers, before they can deposit funds, of:
    • The types of identity documents or other information that might be required.
    • The circumstances in which the information might be required.
    • How it should be supplied to the licensee.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that information on their customer’s identities remains accurate.

After the UK Government asked porn publishers to verify the age of their end users, UK institution the Gambling Commission decided to update the age verification requirements in a move aimed at addressing the risk of children gambling, further helping operators “better prevent harm or detect criminal activity” and identifying ‘self-excluded’ customers who are trying to gamble. 

See the Gambling Commission’s report here.

UK Government to delay the introduction of the age verification law

The UK Government’s mandatory age verification scheme for accessing online pornographic content, originally set for launch 15 July, has been delayed.

Giving a statement in the House of Commons, digital minister Jeremy Wright explained that the government had failed to notify the European Commission of the age verification standards that it expects companies to meet. Not having done so means it can’t legally introduce the policy at this stage according to EU Law.

Wright said, “It has come to my attention in recent days that an implementation process was not undertaken for an element of this policy and I regret to say this will delay the commencement date, in the region of six months”.

Despite the delay, Wright said the UK Government was committed to the policy, “This is not a change of policy or a lessening of this government’s determination for these changes to come about. In the mean time there is nothing to stop responsible providers of online pornography from implementing age verification mechanisms on a voluntary basis and I hope and expect that many will do so.”

The minister also commented on the technical challenge of accurate online age verification that had been raised during the consultation on the law’s white paper. Wright said he has commissioned new guidance that will be published in the autumn regarding the use of technology to ensure children are protected from inappropriate content online.

In conclusion, Wright added, “Age verification for online pornography needs to happen, and I believe it is the clear will of the house and those we represent that it should, and in the clear interests of our children that it must.”

Despite the delay AgeGO recommends that online adult content websites should still contact the company with any questions they might have about age verification and how AgeGO can help them get prepared for the future introduction of the mandatory UK law.

More countries plan age verification to access adult sites

The UK’s age verification law will come into force on July 15th of this year. Many countries are following closely to see how successful this initiative will play out in the UK. Here’s an overview of which countries are thinking about or planning to introduce age verification in the future.


The limitation of online pornographic content online was included in the electoral programme of the newly elected Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez (Social Democrats). The goal of the new government is to implement a new strict age verification system for adult websites.

According to new research carried out by the Balearic Islands University polling 2,500 people aged between 16-29 showed that some children start to consume pornography at 8 with the average age for boys starting to consume pornography is 14 and 16 for girls. Mobile phones are the main point of access for sexual content, with 50% of young people admitting it is the device they most use to watch porn. Although “many have come across pornography unintentionally”, others start searching for images out of curiosity. The anonymity of consumers, the free access to unlimited content, the high quality of the video content, and the wide range of sexual practices (including abuses and illegal practices) portrayed in such websites are some of the factors that worry specialists most.

South Africa

Recently a discussion paper was published by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) which proposed a revision of existing online legislation to limit access to porn, including a default block on internet devices requiring age verification to bypass. According to its introduction, the 360-something-page document aims to identify gaps in the manner in which the law currently regulates and protects children from being exposed to pornography or from being used to create child sexual abuse material, and to serve as a basis for in-depth deliberation on the law reform needed to protect children and to test public opinion on the solutions identified by the Commission.

Most significantly (and, probably, most controversially), the discussion paper recommends that all devices (new and second hand) be issued with or returned to a default setting that blocks inappropriate content, with an opt-in possibility depending on proof of age of the buyer/user as being 18 and older.


This year the Department of Communications launched a public consultation on a new law to regulate harmful content online. The results are currently being examined in preparation for the development of legislation with age verification being considered in the context of the forthcoming legislation.


MPs for the country’s Law and Justice party have put forward radical proposals to curtail access to porn websites. Research from the Integrated Prevention Institute shows that in Poland, 60 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls are first exposed to porn at the age of 11.

Other countries also investigating age verification laws are Sweden and France. AgeGO will keep you updated about any further developments.


AgeGO interviewed by Global Dating Insights

AgeGO’s product manager Jorge Bravo explains how the adult dating industry will need to implement age verification in the UK and how the AgeGO solution will work. Read the full interview here.

AgeGO is the go to solution for the UK’s age verification law

24 April 2019. The UK Government has announced that its age verification law for adult content websites will be enforced on the 15th of July. This means that all adult websites targeting UK traffic will have to ask users to prove that they are over 18 years old in order to view the content.

According to the UK Government’s official communication, porn sites must check the age of users or risk facing sanctions. This new approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline. Stricter measures will be put in place to protect user’s data and privacy. The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in this type of age-verification for online pornography.

Online businesses will need to implement age verification for their websites if they fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Free adult content website e.g. tube site
  • Membership paysite for adult content
  • VoD streaming of adult video content
  • Adult anime (cartoon) content
  • Retailing +18 products e.g. adult DVDs, adult magazines, adult books, etc
  • Advertiser/affiliate landing page to sell or describe adult products
  • Blog featuring adult content, adult retail products
  • Adult dating/hookup website
  • Livecam website that includes nude, semi-nude models and/or sexual acts
  • Escort services website
  • Any other website displaying adult content

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being completely blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Regarding user privacy, age-verification solutions should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition, providers should comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards.

AgeGO is the perfect age verification solution for adult online businesses. AgeGO offers several methods of verification including:

  • Verification by scanning of photo identification of a current Passport or current driving licence
  • Verification with a UK mobile phone and its 3G carrier or via an SMS text
  • Verification with credit card details
  • And other methods that will be detailed in the coming weeks

Privacy is of paramount importance to AgeGO and no personal data is stored of users that it verifies.

AgeGO is quick and easy to implement because it is a self-service platform. Business owners can sign up and upload their website’s logo and instantly create branded AgeGO widget tags. The tags are fully responsive and work across all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet). Integration is as simple as adding a short JavaScript code to the business owner’s website.

Once implemented, when a UK user visits the website, the AgeGO age verification widget will appear on the home page, blurring out the home page’s content. The user then selects one of the verification methods and follows a few on screen prompted steps to complete the verification process. If the verification is successful the user gets instant access to the full content on the website.

Businesses also get additional benefits from using AgeGO including full access to advanced statistics in their dashboard for full control over the age verification flow to improve their user pass rate and control costs.

Businesses can find out more about how AgeGO can ensure that they don’t lose UK traffic by visiting the business section of AgeGO’s website.


For further press information contact

Don’t wait! Find out about age verification for your website now!

In this blog post we explain what you need to do to ensure that your business will continue to be able to monetise the UK market in advance of the Digital Economy Act coming into force.


Does my business need age verification?

You need to implement age verification if your online business website is one of the following:

  • Free adult content website e.g. tube site
  • Membership paysite for adult content
  • VoD streaming of adult video content
  • Adult anime (cartoon) content
  • Retailing +18 products e.g. sex toys, sex accessories, adult DVDs, adult magazines, adult books, etc
  • Advertiser/affiliate landing page to sell or describe adult products
  • Blog featuring adult content, adult retail products
  • Adult dating/hookup website
  • Livecam website that includes nude, semi-nude models and/or sexual acts
  • Escort services website
  • Any other website displaying adult content


What will happen if I don’t use age verification?

Blocked website: All UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will block your website if it is non-compliant, which means your site will not be accessible in the UK.

Heavy fines: The regulator may impose a financial penalty on your company for non-compliance of up to £250,000 or 5% of your qualifying revenue.


How do I get age verification for my website?

A number of age verification providers have created new technologies to verify a user’s age with minimal requirements for personal data. One of the age verification solutions with the biggest industry reach is AgeGO.


How do I implement AgeGO’s age verification solution?

AgeGO is a self-service platform. Simply sign up,upload your website’s logo and instantly create branded AgeGO widget tags. The tags are fully responsive and work across all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet). Integration is as simple as adding a short javascript code to your website and you are all set. Age verification couldn’t be easier!


How does AgeGO verify a users age?

AgeGO offers several BBFC approved methods of verification including:

  • Verification by scanning of photo identification:
    • Current Passport
    • Current Driving Licence
  • Verification with a UK mobile phone and its 3G carrier or via an SMS text
  • Verification with credit card details
  • And other methods that will be detailed in the coming weeks

Please note, AgeGO does not store any personal data of the users it verifies.


Why should I choose AgeGO for my business?

Through our strategic partnerships, AgeGO is the age verification solution with the largest industry reach. As a website owner you get full access to advanced statistics in your dashboard for full control over the age verification flow to improve your user pass rate and control costs.


I want to know more!

If you have any questions contact us here, we would love to hear from you!

83% of UK parents back Age Verification

According to a survey from Internet Matters, more than 8 out of 10 parents (83%) feel that commercial porn sites should demand users to verify their age before they’re able to access content.

The research also found that 76% of UK parents think there should be greater restrictions online to stop kids seeing adult content, and 69% of parents with children aged four to sixteen think that the government’s new ID restrictions will make a difference.

Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Google, Facebook, the BBC and Sky and the organisation has created a comprehensive online pornography hub of advice for parents who want to manage what their children can see online along with age-specific tips on how to deal with conversations about pornography.

All eyes are on the UK to see how the compulsory online age verification initiative plays out when it comes into law. Several European countries, including France, Sweden and Poland, are contemplating similar initiatives to the UKs to protect children from hardcore pornography. A US-based trade association for the pornography industry the Free Speech Coalition, has acknowledged that “Britain’s efforts are a model for those to come”.