back to article Get ready for mandatory porn site age checks, Brits. You read that right

The UK government is to lay its digital bill before Parliament today, which, among other things, is intended to create a legal right for every household to access 10Mbps broadband. Age verification will also be required for people browsing pornographic websites, supposedly for the protection of children from online porn. The …

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  1. nuked

    I'm guessing with enough money I would be able to get a 10Mbps line cabled into to nearly every household now. How does this 'right' convert to affordability for every household?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      It does baffle me.

      10Mbps over 100m has been available since... well, 10BaseT. And there have been WAN technologies available to do such things for decades, over even the flakiest of copper.

      The core problems lies not with the end mile, surely, but with providing provision to the exchanges. And, let's be honest, are you really not going to need to upgrade every exchange at some point anyway? Surely it's now inevitable.

      1. Aggrajag

        I don't think it's the exchanges, I think it's the last mile or indeed miles. I live in a 500 house village near Sheffield and Rotherham and if it wasn't for a privately run business-standard village-wide wifi service we'd still be on 1 Mbps because our nearest exchange is approx 4 miles away. (And of course people who aren't signing up for this company and it's rates are still stuck at 1 Mbps.)

        1. h4rm0ny

          Well maybe if this law passes you'll have the "right" to 10Mbps in your village but there's nothing about cost still. So what does that mean? They're forced to offer it but can charge you thousands for a dedicated line? They're not allowed to offer packages less than 10Mbps? Those seem to be the only viable interpretations of this law and neither really makes much sense. Maybe if you're an ISP you're required to offer 10Mbps to anyone who wants it. Which is a great way to keep out new competition as only BT, TalkTalk, et al. could absorb such costs. Again, as a law this makes no sense?

          And what the Hell does this have to do with mandatory age checks, too? Another way of putting that is anyone visiting such sites legally must supply personally identifying information. Yes, that's exactly what you should not be putting into a porn site. Nor should the government be snooping on it.

          1. The Mole

            "Right to 10Mbps" means it will be written into the "universal service obligation". That is in order to get a license the operator (e.g. BT) has to agree to provide a minimum service to anybody who requests it for the same price. Exactly the same as the obligation to provide everybody with a phone line.

            So the condition is to offer it for the same price, the obligation also only applies to large national operators allowing smaller firms a chance to compete (probably by piggyback on BT Openreach anyway)

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      10Mbps is easy

      This is interesting. Bog-standard broadband has traditionally been 'up to 8Mbps' (YMMV). Since I complained about some problems and got the last 200m of my line replaced I've been getting about 7.5Mb, from an exchange about 1.5 miles away.

      We're still waiting for FTTP (yep, FTTP, not FTTC - they've promised), which has been promised for many months - but it looks as if it's very, very close now. The exchange was enabled last year, now we're just waiting for our cabinet to get sorted.

      Mysteriously though, a month or two back, I happened to check my connection speed on the hub, and it had gone up to 17.5Mbps down, and 1.25 Mb up (was 400k). No notice, no trumpeting of the change. Is this a side effect of enabling the exchange for fibre? Either way, it means that it looks like a fairly easy job to hit the 10Mbps target without much extra work. Having said that, other users on our cabinet are still only getting about 5Mbps or less.

      1. Fuzz

        Re: 10Mbps is easy

        This is a switch to ADSL2+ which supports speeds up to 24Mbps. I'd imagine that openreach are no longer offering products based on ADSL. As you live quite close to your exchange you get a decent boost on speed. For people further from the exchange the benefit of ADSL2+ is very small and won't take people over the magical 10Mbps boundary.

        1. CommanderGalaxian
          Headmaster

          Re: 10Mbps is easy

          For the avoidance of confusion, please note ADSL2+ and FTTC are different mechanisms.

        2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

          Re: 10Mbps is easy

          Are common household data rates really that low over on the other side of the pond?

          Here in Canada we've been getting 50 megabits download and 35 megabits upload for at least 10 years now and our local comms provider Telus, have had their 150 megabits synchronous comms with the same upload and download speed package at a very reasonable $80 CAN per month with 600 Gigabytes of data allowed per month for almost two years now!

          In the downtown core flats that are all fibre optic connected, their Gigabit Ethernet package which is actually cheaper at only $65 per month is almost spot on synchronous with One Gigabit download and 0.8 Gigabits upload for superfast gaming and 4K video Netflix options. How hard can it be to wire up a country? My cousins in Munich, Germany have had inexpensive Three Gigabit IPV6 Video, Voice and Data for at least three years now and you can pay extra to get the full 10 Gigabit package although that price package is definitely much more expensive. If Germany and Canada can give the public high speed Internet, why can't the UK do it too?

      2. Ynox

        Re: 10Mbps is easy

        8Mbit was ADSL.

        (Up to) 20Mbit is ADSL2+ so they switched the exchange over to ADSL2+. Surprised that there's any ADSL exchanges left these days!

        Edit - beaten to this comment...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

    Will be pretty big if they decide to put all sites that don't verify age in it.

    1. corestore

      Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

      Ahh but there isn't one you see; the government left it to the IWF to maintain the blacklist. And of course since they're a private organization they're not covered by freedom of information laws so the blacklist stays secret...

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

        So what about sites which don't charge?

        This smells like free speech and perverts be damned and using the children as hostages.

        Not that I happen to run such a site... *ahem*

        1. Crisp Silver badge

          Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

          Which site is this? A friend of mine wants to know for research purposes...

          1. msknight Silver badge

            Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

            This friend of yours... wouldn't work for the government, by any chance ;-)

            1. Red Bren

              Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

              "This friend of yours... wouldn't work for the government, by any chance ;-)"

              That's a terrible thing to accuse an innocent pervert of being.

              1. msknight Silver badge

                Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

                A certain conservative member comes to mind... only the orange wasn't in his christmas stocking.

                Ah! I see now! They're trying to save the children from perverted politicians!!! It all makes sense now.

                Joking aside, I don't use El Reg to promote my resources, even if they are free ;-)

                1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

                  Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

                  Plus the stocking was over his head.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

        Oh goody

        The politician's favourite propaganda prorogation site "twatter" will have to ban everyone who isn't prepared / able to hand over a credit card number as proof of ID. While "twatter" might host lying stealing conniving cheating bastards like those penned up in parliament it is also used by many hard working ladies and gentlemen (and no doubt not so gentle if you pay enough) of negotiable affection. Plus more user generated content than you could ever shake your own stick at.

        1. ridley

          Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

          Perhaps they should talk to James Ready he ran a very popular Adult Verification Service (AVS) for many websites and their webmasters. Of course that went well for him and several thousand innocent Brits who used the service..

      3. CommanderGalaxian
        Boffin

        Re: The Govt filter for stuff we shouldn't see.

        I think you will find they have left it to China Telecom and Huawei (those responsible for the Great Firewall of China) to do the filtering. http://www.kitguru.net/channel/jon-martindale/huawei-to-open-125-million-research-facility-in-uk/

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    The Digital Economy Bill was first announced in the Queen's Speech earlier this year. It has the lofty aim of "mak[ing] the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy" via legislation.

    Coming up next: legislation to enforce better wether. Britain needs to become world leader in beach resorts too!

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Wether - castrated rams require legislation?

      If l may channel Kryten for a moment, I hardly think that castrated rams need any further legislation...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wether - castrated rams require legislation?

        You wouldn't be saying that if you were a ram!

      2. g e
        Pint

        Thank you, Sir

        For teaching me a word heretofore unknownst to me.

        :oD

        Next week, for avid learners of our colourful language... Poor, Pore, Paw, Pour followed by an afternoon studying Though, Thought, Through, Trough, Drought, Tough

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Thank you, Sir

          and Cough

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Thank you, Sir

            and Slough

        2. Steve Foster
          Childcatcher

          Re: Thank you, Sir

          Let's not forget bow and bow [and beau], and row and row.

          (archery vs shipping or obsequience; argument vs Steve Redgrave).

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: Thank you, Sir

            And bough.

    2. Potemkine Silver badge

      It surely needs to revamp its advertising campaign ^^

  4. Queeg

    Tor,Tor,Tor,Tor....Tor,Tor,Tor,Tor......Tor wonderful Tor

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8huXkSaL7o

    You'll get the idea.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Who would have guessed ten years ago that in Britain by 2016 a VPN would be an essential tool if you wanted to visit any non-government approved website. I certainly didn't. What a deeply depressing state of affairs...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tor, Tor, Tor

      Perhaps, but unfortunately Tor is very easy to profile. (This is why they haven't simply blocked it - it's so very useful!)

      So High Chancellor Theresa May will have a nice handy list of all paedos/terrorists/dissidents in her country. It doesn't even matter what you were DOING with Tor, the fact you are using it makes you a threat, and you can expect a knock on the door (or at least a fingering) from the NCA i.e. May's SS.

      You won't even be able to claim that your Human Rights have been violated, because by the time we sign Article 50, you won't have any.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tor, Tor, Tor

        Plus, as other people have said, this mandatory age-verification will presumably involve an ID check, i.e. scanning a biometric, swiping your government-issued ID card, or some other form of ID which can be linked to a central government pervs database.

        Not too long ago, Theresa May (or was it Jacqui Smith?) wanted ISPs to force people to opt-in to porn. Those who did are on the pervs database.

        But really it's not about porn, it's about controlling anonymity online in general. The only reason it's about porn right now is because people are more likely to accept a pervs database than a complete citizen/dissident database. Many shillspeople are now calling for mandatory ID checks on people using social networks and forums, ostensibly to make it easier for the plod to cuff anyone who says something naughty or otherwise offends somebody on The Internet.

        Shortly it will be illegal to try to post anything or even view anything anonymously on the Internet (or otherwise attempt to subvert citizen/dissident profiling). And using Tor will be a one-way ticket to the rehabilitation centre.

        Anon, while it's still legal!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tor, Tor, Tor

          "Not too long ago, Theresa May (or was it Jacqui Smith?) wanted ISPs to force people to opt-in to porn. Those who did are on the pervs database."

          And they sort of did. They managed to get all the major ISPs to make new customers choose on sign-up whether they wanted restricted or unrestricted access to the 'net - presumably they would just need to get existing customers to make an active choice. Given fixed line broadband (I think) needs to have an 18+ account holder, job's a good 'un.

          Of course, all this is ignoring the fact that the filters are terrible. My mobile blocker is still in place (vpn for most things on the road anyway as it gets rid of traffic shaping and the terrible DNS servers in the mobile world) and recently blocked my access to a video games forum as "adult content".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tor, Tor, Tor

            I signed that I wanted unrestricted access as:

            (a) my wife is a Pharmacist

            (b) my daughter is a Medical Student

            and both need access to pages containing text and images that would hit filtering.

            Me however, because I'm male and ticked the box, I'm labelled as a pervert!

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Give me a 'V'! Give me a 'P'! Give me an 'N'! What does it spell? 'Go fuck yourself, government'.

  5. BoldMan

    So how will they enforce Mandatory Age verification on porn sites that are not hosted in the UK?

    Are there any porn sites hosted in the UK? If so, won't be for much longer...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      So how will they enforce mandatory age verification on porn sites inside the UK?

      Technically it seems impossible, unless there's a plan for everyone to get a Gov ID card with chip and a card reader. And then how would the sites operate with connections from outside the UK?

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        And then how would the sites operate with connections from outside the UK?

        Why would they care? All this age verification crap is coming from that patrician twerp Cameron, aided and abetted by Sturmbahnfuhrer May.

        May has a degree in geography, Cameron in philosophy, politics and economics. So between them they know the sum of f*** all in all matters of business, science or technology, and if they managed to mess up the UK's internet they would simply not understand why that mattered.

        1. moiety

          It'll probably be a pop-up box saying "Are you 18 or what?" with yes/no buttons.

          1. Cris E

            >It'll probably be a pop-up box saying "Are you 18 or what?" with yes/no buttons.

            That could be circumvented by simply lying. What you need is a second box asking "Are you sure?"

            1. Crisp Silver badge

              Re: That could be circumvented by simply lying.

              You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and tell lies?

              1. Thatguyfromthatforum

                Re: That could be circumvented by simply lying.

                This comment made my day.

                A 21 year old Brazilian stripper and a bottle of ky is in the mail .

            2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

              Are you 18?

              Asking a simple question won't work - they might lie. No, the question needs to be

              Do you PROMISE on Cameron's grave that you're 18, cross your heart, hope to die.

              That would be sure to get an honest answer.

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: Are you 18?

                >>"Do you PROMISE on Cameron's grave that you're 18, cross your heart, hope to die."

                Maaaaybe.

                But show me Blair's grave and I'll promise pretty much anything you want!

          2. Shady

            I do hope so. Otherwise I'll wear out my numeric keypad :(

          3. TheProf
            Facepalm

            It'll probably be a pop-up box saying "Are you 18 or what?" with yes/no buttons.

            And a lot of adults will still get it wrong.

            1. M7S
              Coat

              And a lot of adults will still get it wrong.

              48% perhaps?

      2. John Sturdy
        FAIL

        That's easy

        Just make the login process take 18 years. By the time it completes, you're old enough.

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