UK Government plans Online Safety Bill for 2021

age verification

The UK Government outlined its plans to introduce new rules for tech firms in its Online Harms White Paper, to make the UK a safer place to be online. The safety of children is at the heart of the measures.

The new regulations will apply to any company in the world hosting user-generated content online that is accessible by people in the UK or enabling them to privately or publicly interact with others online.

All companies will need to take appropriate steps to address illegal content and activity such as terrorism and child sexual abuse. They will also be required to assess the likelihood of children accessing their services and, if so, provide additional protections for them. This could be by using age verification solutions to ensure children are not accessing platforms which are not suitable for them.

The scope includes social media, video sharing and instant messaging platforms, online forums, dating apps, commercial pornography websites, as well as online marketplaces, peer-to-peer services, consumer cloud storage sites and video games which allow online interaction. Search engines will also be subject to the new regulations. 

Tech platforms will need to do far more to protect children from being exposed to harmful content or activity such as grooming, bullying and pornography. The white paper divides online platforms into two categories:

  • Category 1 services include companies with the largest online presences and high-risk features: Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. These companies will need to assess the risk of legal content or activity on their services with “a reasonably foreseeable risk of causing significant physical or psychological harm to adults”. They will then need to make clear what type of “legal but harmful” content is acceptable on their platforms in their terms and conditions and enforce this transparently and consistently.  All companies will need mechanisms so people can easily report harmful content or activity while also being able to appeal the takedown of content. Category 1 companies will be required to publish transparency reports about the steps they are taking to tackle online harms.
  • Category 2 services are platforms which host dating services or pornography and private messaging apps. Less than three per cent of UK businesses will fall within the scope of the legislation and the vast majority of companies will be Category 2 services.  

Ofcom is now confirmed as the regulator with the power to fine companies who fail in their duty of care. Fines will be up to £18 million or ten percent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher. It will have the power to block non-compliant services from being accessed in the UK and the government will reserve the power for senior managers to be held liable.

As well as ensuring that online businesses comply with the new laws proposed by the UK, AgeGO recommends that commercial pornography sites and adult dating platforms should begin using some kind of age verification solution to ensure users of their platforms are 18 years or over. This acts as an additional safety measure to not only to stop underage users from accessing adult content, but also ensuring compliance for their businesses. 

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!