Porn Registry dropped

Parliament

The Government has given up on attempts to implement the online porn ban it has spent the past two years working towards.

As we reported in 2017 the Digital Economy Bill sought to impose age verification checks on online porn for everyone in the UK. It wouldn’t have affected anyone who knew enough to be able to run a virtual private network tunnel out into the rest of the world’s internet, and it would have created a huge database of what kind of stuff millions of people across the UK were into that would have been a huge hacking target. Yet even that database would have been of limited use, as people would be able to register for it using passports and driving licences but alternatively could have picked up a ‘porn pass’ from a corner shop anonymously. With the embarassment some would have felt buying such passes presumably they would have made for a roaring trade on eBay.

It also wouldn’t have covered a huge swathe of porn, and would only have applied to websites that were mostly about porn, as opposed to big mainstream sites like Facebook or Google. So apart from being a disaster waiting to happen, and hugely challenging to implement, it wouldn’t have stopped people from – as it were – coming across things they didn’t intend to.  They’d just see porn in places that weren’t really about that – where with a new blocking regime in place you’d assume they would expect to not see it any more.

The bill started as a Labour initiative in 2013 and was then picked up by David Cameron as PM, and so regardless of its real-world practicalities the proposal had backing across the Conservative and Labour benches.

Today Nicky Morgan MP, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, admitted that the whole scheme is stuffed and the government is instead trying to work out how to legislate something vaguely similar on a platform-by-platform basis across social media.

That still sounds like a lot of work with lots of nuances to resolve, but given how smoothly and easily Brexit has been sorted out, we will expect news any day now. Or perhaps Christmas after next.