UK Betting Sites Inspire Laws Governing Pornographic Content Online

UK betting sites and their software are being used as a template for the government’s new regulations regarding online pornography.

Age verification adult sites.

The UK government is asking adult websites to look at gambling operators as an example of how to stop underage consumption. (Image: leviathyn.com)

Following the publication of the government’s new Digital Economy Act, adult websites will be required to impose age verification checks on customers.

In a bid to improve child protection, the Digital Economy Act has outlined the need for pornographic sites to stop children accessing explicit material and the UK betting industry is being used as an example.

iGaming Operators Showing the Way

With all sites providing adult content on a “commercial basis” being asked to implement age restrictions by April 2018, verification techniques from iGaming are now being examined.

As it stands, any UK gambling site licensed by the UKGC must confirm a customer’s age.

One of the most common techniques used by operators is review a customer’s credit card information. Under UK law, no one under the age of 18 can be issued with a credit card. Using this as a base, gambling sites can cross-reference a credit card company’s information with that stored on their databases.

Another age verification technique used by online gambling sites in the UK is ID checks. Before a customer’s opening withdrawal is processed, the operator will ask for copies of their driving licence or passport as well as an additional form of identification such as a utility bill.

Any customers that fail to supply this information or can’t pass the security checks will have their withdrawal denied and their account closed. Although pornographic websites won’t be able to use the latter technique, credit card checks are possible.

Fines in Place to Protect Children

Adult content companies that fail to install proper age verification methods by April 2018 will not only face a fine up to £250,000 but the possible removal of their payment services.

Indeed, when the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) takes charge of enforcing the new law, it will have the power to inform payment processors of a site’s compliance failures.

Unlike the UKGC, which has the power to revoke an operator’s licence and shut them down, the BBFC will have to rely on the above penalties to deter sites from breaching the rules. Although time will tell how effective these penalties will be, children’s charities across the UK have praised the efforts of ministers.

A 2016 NSPCC report found that more than 50 percent of 11-to-12-years-olds have watched some of pornographic content online, while 25 percent have inadvertently come across it while browsing.

The government will be hoping its Digital Economy Act can reduce this figure in much the same way the UKGC’s efforts have made underage online gambling in the UK a lot tougher over the last three years.

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