This barely got a mention on The Independent’s site:
‘The Government has recently been looking to introduce new checks to ensure that adult content can only be viewed by those over 18. To do that, it will introduce age verification schemes, and sites that don’t implement them will be rendered inaccessible from within the UK.’
The problem with this is twofold: First the government would need to implement some form of Internet ID scheme, and this comes loaded with potential issues. Obviously they can’t use IP addresses, since multiple people could be on the same network or even the same computer. They could use a centralised identity assurance scheme, but that would result in event logs recording who visited what, and I don’t think anyone’s stupid enough not to use Tor and VPNs instead. A likely candidate is Gov.uk Verify, which is actually intended for identity assurance with trusted parties, and it could become essentially the National Identity Register we (including yours truly) campaigned against last decade because there were serious trust issues. Additionally this could pave the way for an Internet ID system that should be avoided for similar reasons.
Secondly, the government would have to block access to any sites that didn’t comply with the age verification thing. The systems for implementing that have been deployed since before 2013, and we know the filtering can readily be applied to other categories of Web content – for example, I found it blocked access to sites related to to e-cigarette suppliers, hacking and martial arts for a couple of months. It’s entirely possible that a future government would selectively block access to something like Wikileaks and campaign groups on the grounds of some ‘hate speech’ or ‘anti terror’ laws.
Simply censoring stuff doesn’t address cause, and attempting to enforce morality on a single issue doesn’t work in a society that encourages consumerism, double standards, decadence, moral relativism, self entitlement and lack of community. If young people spend most their nights holed up with their pornography and games (instead of going to Church!), there’s a deeper and more serious problem. So, yes, I think there’s a problem related to pornography, but glossing over the situation with a Web filter that could easily be abused and repurposed is even more morally ambiguous.