UK users of social media platforms and could be forced to submit passport or credit card details under new online safety proposals.
On Tuesday, the government said all pornography websites will be legally required to verify that users are 18 or older as part of the new rules.
The websites, which between them see over 750 million monthly global users, are two of the remaining mainstream social media platforms to still permit pornography, while neither has robust age-checks for those accessing adult material.
But in its announcement, said ‘where a considerable quantity of pornographic material is accessible’, websites will have to verify the age of users in the same way other commercial pornography websites already do.
As a result, Twitter and Reddit could be forced into a decision between introducing age verification for UK users over the age of 18, or banning adult material from their UK services altogether, according to .
UK users of social media platforms Twitter (pictured) and Reddit could be forced to submit passport or credit card details under new online safety proposals
Twitter and Reddit (pictured), which between them see over 750 million monthly global users, are two of the remaining mainstream social media platforms to still permit pornography
Both platforms have bucked the trend set by their competitors in banning pornography.Facebook and Instagram — both subsidiaries of Meta Inc. — have a strict pornography ban in place. Blog site Tumblr banned adult content in 2018.
Under the government’s draft online safety bill, porn sites will be legally required to put ‘robust checks’ in place to protect children from accessing them.
Companies could use secure age verification technology to confirm a user has a credit card, or use a third-party service to confirm a user’s age against government-held data to confirm if they can access adult content.
Officials said that if sites fail to conform they can be fined up to 10 percent of their annual global turnover.In 2020, Twitter’s global revenue came to $3.72 billion, while Reddit reported a revenue of $170 million.
Their sites could also be blocked in the U.K. by the communications regulator, and the companies’ bosses could be held criminally liable.
No official announcement has yet been made with regards to social media websites like Twitter and Reddit.
‘It is too easy for children to access pornography online. Parents deserve peace of mind that their children are protected online from seeing things no child should see,’ said Chris Philp, the digital minister.
‘We are now strengthening the Online Safety Bill so it applies to all porn sites to ensure we achieve our aim of making the internet a safer place for children,’ he said.
Currently the online safety bill, which was published in May, only covers commercial porn sites that allow user-generated content.The proposed update announced Tuesday means that all commercial porn sites will be regulated.
Officials said that while the communications regulator could recommend the use of age verification technologies, the onus will be on companies to decide how best to comply with the new rules.
Downing Street said ‘where a considerable quantity of pornographic material is accessible’, websites will have to verify the age of users in the same way other commercial pornography websites already do
The Government said the onus will be on the companies and sites themselves to decide on how best to comply with the new rules, adding that Ofcom may recommend the use of certain age verification technology.
However, it said that the measures put in place should not process or store data that is irrelevant to the purpose of checking someone’s age.
The shake-up ends years of flip-flopping by the Government on how to control the pornography industry.Plans were first laid out in 2015 only to be mothballed four years later.
Campaigners warn that the vast amounts of porn readily available online are having a worrying impact on children’s attitudes to relationships.
An estimated 20-25 million people access porn in the UK, roughly a third of the population, according to previous estimated cited by The Guardian.
Research has suggested that half of 11 to 13 year olds in the U.K.have seen pornography, and many younger children have stumbled upon porn online.
Some have argued that the new rules would have a major impact on the revenue streams of porn sites. But others representing UK celebrities who is hosting any website use OnlyFans insisted that the site already has age verification systems in place.
And cybersecurity experts have also warned that the Government’s internet plans could pose a data security risk.
Half of parents fear web porn gives youngsters an unrealistic view of sex and more than half of mothers think it casts women in a poor light.
Under the Online Safety Bill, age verification checks were to apply only to websites hosting user-generated adult content.This included social media platforms or sites such as OnlyFans, where anyone can register and upload their own adult content.
Critics said that plan was too weak because websites could easily get around it by removing user-generated content.
The Government yesterday said it would strengthen the legislation to include all sites that feature adult content.Officials said the final version would be published ‘within the coming weeks’.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS news" data-version="2" id="mol-2da19600-89f5-11ec-97dd-d7615dc146a9" website and Reddit users in UK could be age-checked under No. 10 plans