In the United Kingdom, residents may soon have to upload a selfie to an adult website to prove they’re old enough to watch pornography.

The proposal, from the watchdog Ofcom, is meant to protect children from sexually explicit content under the country’s Online Safety Act.

The rules would require adult websites to use facial recognition technology to confirm anyone using their site is above the legal age requirement to view pornography.

“The technology uses artificial intelligence to guess a person’s age by comparing a photo of them with a database of thousands of other pictures and could deny access to some users above 18 under a ‘challenge 25’ system,” Daily Mail reports.

From Daily Mail:

On average, children are aged just 13 when they first encounter hardcore porn online. The watchdog said it would not accept ‘weaker’ age checks, such as allowing users to self-declare their age or simply add disclaimers or warnings to sexually explicit material.

A survey found the majority of Britons are supportive of introducing tougher measures – but half said they were worried about handing over their personal and private information.

Ofcom said all age assurance methods were subject to the UK’s privacy laws and were overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Hardcore porn can easily be accessed with just a click of a button, with research finding the violent imagery leads teenagers to believe strangling and slapping is a normal part of sex.

By 2025, adult sites and apps would be required to keep written records explaining how they are protecting children from accessing porn – or face a hefty fine of up to 10 per cent of their global turnover.

The regulator said it expected porn sites to ‘work with us’ and listed potential ‘age-assurance’ measures it believes would be ‘highly effective’.

Modernity writes:

Such technology is seen as more “privacy-friendly” because it would avoid viewers having to upload personal IDs or credit card information.

However, the shame aspect of having to take a selfie in order to watch hardcore pornography is very likely not just to prevent children accessing such material, but adults too.

Porn websites assert that they delete the selfies immediately after confirmation.

Users who look under the age of 25 may have to provide further ID information to access adult websites.

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“Pornography is too readily accessible to children online, and the new online safety laws are clear that must change. Our practical guidance sets out a range of methods for highly effective age checks,” Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s chief executive, said.

“We’re clear that weaker methods – such as allowing users to self-declare their age – won’t meet this standard,” she continued.

“Regardless of their approach, we expect all services to offer robust protection to children from stumbling across pornography, and also to take care that privacy rights and freedoms for adults to access legal content are safeguarded,” she added.

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