Wednesday 16 October 2019 6:35 pm

Government ditches controversial ‘porn block’ plan in favour of wider online harms laws

The government has quietly dropped plans to introduce strict age verification measures to prevent under-18s from viewing online pornography.

The controversial proposals, which were hampered by a series of delays, would have forced commercial porn providers to verify their users’ age, or face being blocked in Britain.

Read more: Minister apologises as UK porn laws are pushed back six months

But in a statement issued today, culture secretary Nicky Morgan said the government would “not be commencing” the new legislation. She said the issue would instead be addressed through existing proposals aimed at tackling wider online harms.


“The government’s commitment to protecting children online is unwavering,” Morgan said. 

“We are committed to the UK becoming a world-leader in the development of online safety technology and to ensure companies of all sizes have access to, and adopt, innovative solutions to improve the safety of their users.”

Critics slammed the original porn block proposals over a number of potential loopholes, including the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to sidestep the measures.

The move would also have raised concerns about the ability of providers to secure databases containing personal and potentially damaging information.

“It was clear this was always going to be a pointless endeavour,” said Matt Powell, editor at Broadband Genie. 

Read more: Online harms proposals will damage UK tech sector, tech giants warn

“That the plans went this far is yet more proof that the government lacks a basic understanding of technology, and that it is failing to either ask for or listen to expert advice before wasting taxpayers’ money.”


In the Queen’s Speech earlier this week the government laid out plans for draft legislation to enact its online harms proposals.

Main image credit: Getty

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