Pornhub Owner MindGeek Shows Off the Tool That May be Restricting Your Access to Porn Very Soon

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's no secret that the government hates videos and images of naked people, and has decided to make it harder to access that kind of material without going through an identity verification system that may or may not track everything we view. Because we have to protect the children, obviously, since parents can't be trusted to install parental control software.

Now MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub and other porn sites, has unveiled its plans for AgeID - the age-verification system that looks it'll become the default gatekeeping tool for any porn sites that are accessed from within the UK.

The point of AgeID is to verify a user is above the age of 18, using an encrypted login that also happens to mean they don't need to verify their age every time they want to watch some sort of sexy videos. It's not entirely clear how effective keeping users permanently logged in will be at stopping kids from sneaking a peak at some smut with mum or dad's computer.

The company promises that the system won't store any personal data, only the "standard technical data" to prevent fraud. AgeID will also be made freely available to all independent porn sites, producers, and blogs, while larger companies will be required to pay a one-time fee. All of them will have access to the system next month, which is when the horrendously stupid section of the Digital Economy Act (2017) goes into effect.

The UK won't be the first country to implement AgeID's system, since it's been in use in Germany since 2015, but there are a lot of questions that still need answering. How do we know MindGeek isn't collecting information on our browsing habits for whatever reason? Its been previously pointed out that its privacy policy allows the collection and analysis of user data to sell them better adverts. The government itself also noted that mandatory age verification could be harmful to small ISPs and actually increase the risks of fraud.

While this new announcement may alleviate some of the fears from smaller porn companies, which had been critical of handing over the task of online age verification to a competitor, we still don't know how MindGeek will be classifying "independent" porn sites. Controlling the default age verification system gives it the perfect excuse to cut a huge slice out of its competition's profit margins, and while there's no evidence that it will abuse its power what's stopping it from trying something in the near future?

So next month we will see another one of the government's many stupid mistakes come into force, and in what seems to be typical behaviour for the ruling party it's being handed over to a private third-party company. While the porn sites might not be looking forward to the expense of implementing AgeID (lest they risk a £250,000 fine) I bet VPN providers can't wait for the surge in sign-ups they'll no doubt get. [Engadget]


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