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The implications aren’t confined to across the pond.

It’s about to become a lot harder for teens to watch porn over the internet.

The U.K. has just passed one of the most comprehensive underage pornography laws in the West, forcing adult content hosts to provide age verification systems to vet out users under 18. Once the law goes into effect, it may begin impacting porn usage in the U.S., too.

Under 2017’s Digital Economy Act, websites that sell pornography on a commercial basis will be forced to prevent users under 18 from accessing mature content by April 2018. After that, any website that does not comply will be heavily fined and blocked by internet service providers.

“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 child internet usage charity Childnet, according to CNBC.

BBC News suggests that websites may implement a credit card check, confirming a user’s age through external details. And while the law targets websites that sell pornography commercially, it also has a loose interpretation of adult material sold on a “commercial basis.” Age regulations may impact websites like Lulu or Createspace, which host adult material created by users. Amateur and free pornography creators, including queer and trans artists, may be significantly impacted by the financial requirements needed to verify users’ age, too. And credit card checks may allow services to create user databases, storing credit card numbers and information for later use.

For free speech activists and privacy rights groups, that’s troubling. They’re concerned that the Digital Economy Act will breach users’ privacy, forcing porn viewers to give away more information about themselves than needed. For LGBTQ viewers, this could out their sexual identity if their credit card is hacked.

“Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the U.K.’s porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison-style hacks,” Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock told the Guardian. “The government has repeatedly refused to ensure that there is a legal duty for age verification providers to protect the privacy of web users. There is also nothing to ensure a free and fair market for age verification.”

Killlock also points out that MindGeek, the owner of PornHub and YouPorn, is such an enormous pornography hub that its online websites may set the standard for pornographic privacy rights by 2018. If MindGeek implements a particularly invasive age verification system, that’s bad news for consumers.

Meanwhile, Porn Panic! author Jerry Barnett argues that the law could change pornography access around the world. He notes that the act is historic, warning that the U.K. could clamp down on all forms of adult speech on the internet, even artful nudity and erotica.

“For the first time, the government has the power to block websites, en masse, without court orders. This is a first in a democracy,” Barnett told the Guardian. “Although this appears to be just about protecting children from porn, it isn’t. It will block any site that doesn’t comply with strict U.K. content rules. Any nude image at all risks being categorized as porn, and the entire site being blocked.”

H/T BBC News

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