02:04 GMT +312 December 2017
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    Sorry Kids, No Porn For You! UK Calls For ID Checks on Adult Entertainment Sites

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    Setting off a chorus of cries from frustrated teens, the UK government has introduced new legislation that will require visitors to pornography websites to verify they’re at least 18 years of age before being granted access.

    The Digital Economy Act was signed by UK Digital Minister Matt Hancock on Monday, despite the lack of details on how to implement the new rules. 

    One possibility entails having users submit credit card information before they can proceed. Another, deemed more controversial, would screen visitors by means of the electoral roll. Both proposals have been called problematic by privacy advocates.

    It is hoped that the age verification system will be in place by April 2018, but experts who advised lawmakers in drafting the act believe the targeted date is unfeasible.

    "It seems to me to be a very premature date," Dr. Victoria Nash, lead author of a runner-up report to the new bill, told the BBC. "The idea you can get a regulatory body up and running in that timeframe seems extraordinary to me."

    In addition, online platforms other than porn sites, like Tumblr and Twitter, also need to be monitored if officials really want to keep pornography off-limits for teens, Nash said.

    "It may make it harder for children to stumble across pornography, especially in the younger age range, but it will do nothing to stop determined teenagers."

    Cyber security expert Dr. Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute slammed the act.

    "This is one of the worst proposals I have seen on digital strategy," Wright told the BBC. "They may well say there will be other magical ways to do the age check, but I very much doubt they will be non-discriminatory, transparent, privacy-preserving and secure for end users."

    Childnet CEO Will Gardner is hopeful about the move, however.

    "It’s bringing the same steps we take in the offline world to the online world," Gardner, who works to make the online world safer for children, told news.com.au. "Different countries are taking different responses and if people can learn lessons from what we’re doing here that would be great."

    As implementation is debated, officials have noted that any company refusing to follow the new guidelines, once enacted, will be hit with more than $400,000 in fines or else be blocked by UK internet service providers. 

    The new legislation also raises online piracy penalties to 10 years in jail and makes it a crime to use bots to buy up concert tickets in order to resell them at inflated prices.

    Despite the initiative’s critics, for Digital Minister Hancock, "it will secure better support for consumers, better protection for children on the internet, and underpin a radical transformation of government services."

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