Web

Soon, you’ll need to prove you’re 18 to visit adult websites in the U.K.

uk government age verification adult website news tense man looking at computer
The U.K. government has said it will introduce mandatory age verification for all adult websites, to make sure those accessing them are over the age of 18. It’ll hold the companies that produce and publish the content responsible for introducing the eventual system, and force sanctions on sites that don’t follow the new rules, which will be overseen by an as yet unnamed regulator. These rules will apply to “all sites containing pornographic material.”

A public consultation on the proposed rule will take place between now and April 12, and comes after the government sought the opinion and advice of Internet providers, search companies, charities, and other affected businesses. The proposal states a new legal requirement will be put into place, where age verification controls must be enforced by all online adult content providers accessible in the U.K.. Additionally, a new regulatory framework will also be created.

The new regulator will be responsible for checking compliance, and it’s possible the task will be handed to telecoms regulator Ofcom, or a new body will be specially created. The law will include the ability to impose sanctions on any sites not complying with the new rules. In the event of finding a site without age verification, the proposal wants to give businesses whose services are used by the sites — including payments and advertising — the ability to withdraw in the event of non-compliance.

This is how the U.K. government hopes it will get around the fact many adult sites are located outside of the country. The idea is, the regulator will have sites not complying flagged up with payment and advertising companies, who will stop doing business with the sites, thereby cutting off revenue. The logic, according to the senior communications officer at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport who spoke with Digital Trends, is that many adult sites use free content to encourage people to pay for premium access. Removing the ability to receive payments by non-complying sites will encourage them to add in an age verification system. It’ll work in the same way for advertising. No ads, no income.

What age verification system will sites need to implement? This has yet to be determined, but there are several methods being discussed, including the trusty credit card option, and a more controversial plan that will use electoral roll data, or the information tied to a phone provider. This was first discussed last year, and while it may work using anonymized data that would make it less intrusive than a credit check, there are still concerns about identities being cross-linked with Web browsing history. The good news is, the U.K government isn’t worried about what system ends up being used, and will probably recognize many different ones. The only real requirement is for it to provide, “robust formal verification,” and not just someone clicking a button saying they are indeed over 18.

The announcement is a continuation of the U.K. government’s fight to protect children online, and its efforts to make adult material harder for those under the age of 18 to view. It’s not a new scheme, with a network provider “opt-in” for adult content being introduced, and ongoing discussion regarding a content filter.

Now the scheme has entered the public consultation phase, everyone gets the chance to have their say. This can be done using an online form found on the government’s website here, where all the documentation supporting the proposal can also be viewed. The consultation period ends on April 12.

Updated on 02-16-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in clarification on how the system will work internationally, plus links to the public consultation material

Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Gaming

‘Hitman 2’ makes a target of the unkillable Sean Bean, but you’d better not miss

Famously mortal actor Sean Bean will be available to kill in Hitman 2 beginning November 20. He'll be in the game as an Elusive Target for two weeks and you'll only get one chance to take him out.
Computing

If the speed of AMD’s Radeon RX 590 doesn’t entice you, the game bundle will

AMD's Radeon RX 590 is a new video card that targets 1080p gaming at maximum detail. Starting at $280, it fills a gap between the Radeon RX 580 and the more expensive Radeon RX Vega. AMD says the new RX 590 can beat Nvidia's GTX 1060 Ti.
Mobile

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
News

Zoom in on famous works through the Art Institute of Chicago’s new website

Art lovers, listen up. The Art Institute of Chicago has given its website a serious makeover with new features that let you get up close and personal with more than 50,000 artworks by famous (and not so famous) artists.
Computing

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

Over a million veterans now eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Comcast's low-cost Internet Essentials program, which provides internet access for just $10 per month, has expanded to include U.S. veterans. One million veterans now qualify for the service.
Computing

Google’s Squoosh will get an image web-ready with in-browser compression

Google's latest web app development is an image editing and compression tool, Squoosh. In just a few clicks, it can take a huge image and make it much lighter and web-friendly, all in your browser.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.
Smart Home

Amazon has a huge team dedicated to enhancing Alexa and Echo

An Amazon executive on Tuesday, November 13 revealed the huge size of the team that's tasked with developing the Echo, the company's smart speaker, and Alexa, the digital assistant that powers it.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.