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London, England, Jul 24, 2017 CNA/EWTN News.- As part of an increasing government crackdown on internet pornography, U.K. porn sites will soon require users to provide proof of being at least 18 years old.
The proposal to move all pornographic websites behind an age-verification wall is slated to take place in April 2018 as part of the Digital Economy Act, promoted by parliament member Matt Hancock.
While details of the ban are still under discussion, the proposal could require credit card details for porn access, as U.K. consumers generally have to be 18 years of age or older to own a card. The age-verification software will likely be similar to gambling websites, and failure to comply could lead to heavy fines for porn sites.
In her customary opening-of-parliament speech in 2016, Queen Elizabeth II referenced the bill, which also aims to reduce email spam and telemarketing calls for citizens as well as promote the testing and use of driverless cars in the U.K.
Supporters of the legislation say that one in five children in the country aged 11-17 had been exposed to pornographic images online that had shocked or upset them, the BBC reported.
While the proposal has drawn criticism for potentially being both a threat to personal privacy and an ultimately ineffective move, its proponents call it a crucial step in the right direction.
“Protecting children from exposure, including accidental exposure, to adult content is incredibly important, given the effect it can have on young people,” said Will Gardner, chief executive of internet safety charity Childnet, according to the Telegraph.
“Steps like this help restrict access,” he said.