Starting later this year, adults who want to indulge in online pornographic content will have to buy a special “porn pass” only available in convenience stores and newsstands all over the country.
The move is a part of a push by UK’s Conservative Party to prevent minors from accessing online pornographic content. Back in February, Theresa May’s administration launched a public consultation over how to implement an age-checking system for pornographic sites.
Academics, internet providers and other experts contributed with proposals that ranged from the viable to the very, very stupid.
One of the ideas thrown onto the table was to force porn sites – even the free ones – to ask for credit card confirmation, something that raised more than a few eyebrows among tech analysts and the general public.
The proposal of handing over the banking information of millions of people to an industry that’s particularly vulnerable to hacks is not something one can consider, er, prudent. Ashley Madison scandal, anyone?
Another idea was to cross-check the user’s details with information on the electoral register. That has “potential privacy nightmare” written all over it.
The age-checking system was initially planned to be active in April, but the date had to be pushed back due to the mammoth logistical challenge of actually choosing and implementing a workable method.
After months of deliberation, the government finally went for the “porn pass” solution, a 16-digit-code that will be sold for around A$18 at convenience stores and newsstands, similarly to liquor, adult magazines or cigarettes.
Interested porn consumers will have to present some form of ID to clerks in order to prove they’re at least 18 years old, turning corner shop employees into the unexpected guardians of the British Internet.
And it goes without saying that this will usher in a whole new era of awkward counter interactions.
The move is part of a greater framework of resolutions adopted by the government as part of their Digital Economy Act 2017, a set of legislation that not only seeks to limit pornography access to minors but also includes some actually bonkers regulations.
The legislation weirdly censors certain content altogether, labelling some sex acts as “unconventional”. Those dirty deeds include public sex, female ejaculation, face-sitting, fisting and any spanking or whipping that can leave a mark.
And if you think it sounds nasty, wait until you hear the criteria they want to apply to actually classify these sex acts. For example, to judge if “fisting” is taking place, UK censors will stick to the good ol’ “four-finger rule”, meaning, it’s not fisting if the thumb(s?) is (are?!) visible.
Oh and don’t worry, face-sitting is fine if the person receiving the “sitting” part can breathe.
Not surprisingly, these salacious regulations have been the target of fiery protests in the UK for the past two years. Some worry Great Britain is shifting to “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy” as Edward Snowden said on his Twitter account on November 2016.
The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies. https://t.co/yvmv8CoHrj
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 17, 2016