back to article Techies building UK web smut age check tools: You'll get a spec next week

A spec for online age verification is due to be published on Monday, a decision backers hope will pacify opponents of the smut checks. The move comes as the pornography industry gets ready for a major overhaul of the way viewers can access web-based content, with everyone who wants to have a quick fiddle asked to verify they …

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  1. Buzzword

    Shoved down our throats

    Dear Reg,

    I get that you’re trying to be all grown-up by dropping the innuendos, but couldn’t you have slipped one in for us loyal readers? Perhaps ask Dabbsy to write next week’s piece if & when the spec is actually released.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Shoved down our throats

      You clearly missed the references, inter-alia, to tools, boxes and rubber-stamping,...

    2. monty75 Silver badge

      Re: Shoved down our throats

      You asked for an innuendo? Allow me to give you one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shoved down our throats

        Nice, you certainly slipped that one in.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shoved down our throats

        >You asked for an innuendo? Allow me to give you one.

        Indeed, forced fellatio.

        Have an upvote.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Shoved down our throats

          >You asked for an innuendo? Allow me to give you one.

          Indeed, forced fellatio.

          Are teeth optional?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shoved down our throats

            Probably, just ask her to take them out.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't wait to see this though I'm unsure where they're going to get ground unicorn horn from?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      where they're going to get ground unicorn horn

      Shoreditch. Apparently, it's fairly common there..

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Ground Unicorn Horn?

      That comes from th Lesser Ground Unicorn - the one with No Legs...

      *badum tish*

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Ground Unicorn Horn?

        Ground Unicorn on a bun with a bit of mustard, mayonnaise, and maybe a nice Cabernet Sauvignon to wash it down. Rare or medium rare?????

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Over 18?

    Isn't the minimum age for settling down, getting married and having kids 16 in the UK?

    Do you have to then wait 2 years for a quick one off the wrist while she is out ?

    1. monty75 Silver badge

      Re: Over 18?

      Yes and yes.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Over 18?

      Apparently if you want to marry at 16 or 17 you need your parents' consent.

      Similarly if you want one off the wrist while watching internet porn under the age of 18, that's ok, but you can only do it while your mum's in the room, tutting.

      Sadly, I think that with government controlled age verification schemes in place, when having an on-line hand shandy it will feel like Theresa May's in the room tutting, whatever age you are.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        "Theresa May's in the room tutting"

        That's killed the mood stone dead. I might as well go and read up on DevOps now, instead.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: "Theresa May's in the room tutting"

          Here, have a mental picture of Jenny Agutter in Logan's Run from the Cyborg ticket article comments to cheer yourself up again.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Over 18?

        "Apparently if you want to marry at 16 or 17 you need your parents' consent."

        Not in Scotland. That's why Gretna Green was the destination for elopement marriages in the 1950s.

        Scotland has its own laws - but often come into line with the ones for England where they are intended to cover the whole UK.

  4. monty75 Silver badge
  5. djstardust Silver badge

    I'm assuming

    If you use a VPN masked as another region then it will bypass the age checks ... or is it not that simple?

    I have a BT router and there's no way to change the DNS. Does that affect anything?

    (Sorry, I'm not that technical really)

    1. rh587

      Re: I'm assuming

      I have a BT router and there's no way to change the DNS.

      You can manually set your DNS provider on your preferred device, instead of using the one provided by the router via DHCP.

      It'll be buried in your network settings somewhere - instead of accepting from DHCP simply set it to 8.8.8.8.

      Only thing you then need to be careful of is if you go to a hotel or are trying to get onto some other public wifi - they'll use their DNS server to direct you to their captive portal to sign in, which won't work if your device is insistent on connecting to 8.8.8.8 instead of the internal DNS they're offering.

      It took me longer than I care to admit to figure that one out...

      1. Mr Dogshit Silver badge

        8.8.8.8

        Yeah, smart move using Google for your DNS. As if those bastards don't already know more than enough about you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm assuming

        "You can manually set your DNS provider on your preferred device" - not on BT routers, alas.

        1. Havin_it

          Re: I'm assuming

          Not on the router, but you can on your pc/slab/etc so what the router says is ignored by it.

          1. Mark 110 Silver badge

            Re: I'm assuming

            Changing your DNS doesn't change your address. You need a VPN service for that. And yes my girlfriends kids use them to access US Netflix content thats not available here. I'm quite sure it would get around this porn thingy as well.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm assuming

            You are forgetting that the router could redirect DNS to wherever 'it' wants IF the correct ACL/Firewall Rules are setup.

            (Assuming a router that has at least some facilities to setup Firewall rules etc)

            This can also be performed by your ISP, if they desire, so ALL DNS goes through the ISP's DNS Servers.

            (Was not uncommon in the past !!!)

            I have configured my Home Router to redirect all port 53 calls to 'My Filtering DNS Server', allows lots of crud to be filtered out before you transfer it across the internet to be filtered by browser addons etc.

            (I know it does not protect me from other ports being used but I am interested in the port 53 traffic that is trying to be 'hidden' in all the other DNS traffic but goes to its 'own' DNS Servers.)

            Any software that plays these games tends to be 'no longer used' !!!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm assuming

        > 8.8.8.8.

        9.9.9.9 also available, courtesy of IBM (/8(\.8){3}/ is Google's)

      4. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: I'm assuming

        There are plenty of other ways to direct your traffic to the captive portal, no matter what you set as your DNS server. (I work for a company that makes gear that can do this. I can think off the top of my head of at least four or five different ways to configure our boxes to do it...)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I'm assuming

          Well, one basic way is to just hijack port 53 wholesale. That blocks custom DNS connections because they'll just redirect them all to their own server (it's a chokepoint, so unless you support nonstandard DNS standards or ports, you're stuck). Another basic way is to block all traffic wholesale until it spots the signature of an HTTP connection, which it then redirects to the portal.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I'm assuming

      "I have a BT router and there's no way to change the DNS. Does that affect anything?"

      No., it'll still be a very dodgy connection - and therefore, blocked.

  6. Gio Ciampa

    "should be completely separate"

    Meaning it won't be...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Questions

    How will UK law affect websites hosted outside the UK?

    Will this law enable the UK government to block websites without going via the UK Courts?

    How will this law work with VPN or IP spoofing?

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Questions

      How will UK law affect websites hosted outside the UK?

      A small number will respect it (presuming that their UK revenues are worth the downsides). Most will ignore it as the stupid mumblings of some sill old dear in a foreign place.

      Will this law enable the UK government to block websites without going via the UK Courts?

      Of course. They like that sort of thing, but there are precedents, eg IWF.

      How will this law work with VPN or IP spoofing?

      Politicians are so stupid and so technically pig-ignorant they haven't thought that through.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Questions

        "Politicians are so stupid and so technically pig-ignorant they haven't thought that through."

        Additionally the few that may understand the 'Shortfalls' are assuming that the majority of the PuntersVoters will vote for them because it all sounds very good and 'protects the Children' etc etc. :) :)

        Just as we think the Politicians are 'Stoopid' so they think the PuntersVoters are !!!

        [A relationship of 'mutual contempt'. !!! :) ]

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Questions

          The 'relationship' is actually NOTHING to do with voters and politicians. That is just a story put up to pretend there is some degree of democracy.

          The main driving force for policy is, and always has been, the Civil Service. In this case the Home Office want another central bureaucratic control they can administer. So they tell the journalists and activists that this is required.

          The journalists then tell the politicians that this is needed, and the Civil Service steps in with a pre-arranged policy.

          No need to involve the voters at all...

  8. Christoph Silver badge

    "We can't put rules about data protection into the PAS… That is in the Data Protection Bill," he said. "So we refer to them, but we can't mandate them inside this PAS – but it's in there as 'you must obey the law'... [perhaps] that's been too subtle for the organisations that have been trying to take a swing at it."

    So that's all right. Privacy will be protected because the law says it will be. Never mind if it turns out to be technically impossible to combine robust age verification with anonymity - the law obviously trumps technical impossibility.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      - the law obviously trumps technical impossibility.

      This reminds of the encryption arguments... The idiots in power are still running amok. Personally, I'd rather see government inaction as opposed to government in action.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Personally, I'd rather see government inaction as opposed to government in action."

        Which was once the government policy on many things - it was called "laissez faire". Which means "leave alone or "let it go".

        As always it usually meant libertarian attitudes to financial matters for the ruling classes - but tight control over ordinary people's private lives. A Jacob Rees-Mogg type of government.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          ...it usually meant libertarian attitudes to financial matters for the ruling classes - but tight control over ordinary people's private lives. A Jacob Rees-Mogg type of government....

          I wonder where you got that smear from?

          In reality, of course, you are describing a 'Green' government. For the Greens, their financiers, like Soros, or Elon Musk, can do no wrong, and will be given large amounts of taxpayer money to spend as they wish. While the little people are forced to eat and dring the 'right' things, then put the right kind of plastics into the right boxes, and be fined for leaving the top of your recycling bin open...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Redirect to dodgy sites

    I still don't get how this is going to work. So all the safe, legit pr0n sites sign up to this blocking system leaving the porn hunting teens to access the dodgy scam filled temporary sites that are filled with malware.

    How is that safer?

    Can we please put a block on all MPs from ever making IT based decisions?

    1. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: Redirect to dodgy sites

      Yes, think of the children's computers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Redirect to dodgy sites

        Do we have to ask for them back off the MPs now?

  10. John H Woods Silver badge

    Robust age verification with anonymity...

    "Never mind if it turns out to be technically impossible to combine robust age verification with anonymity"

    ... presumably not technically impossible; surely it could be done with federated identity. You apply to the new UK government scheme for user ID / password combo, they verify your age and they "give you one"

    Then all you have to do is use OAuth etc: to prove to the porn provider that you can log into an account you couldn't possibly have if you are under 18, and "Bob's your uncle," or whatever your preferred genre.

    Of course, people will just steal or borrow IDs belonging to people over 18. But then they'd do that if the proofs were credit card details. And the government scheme would be prone to being tricked in the same manner. And it would have more holes than a colander. It's a stupid idea but, unlike good-guy-only-encryption-without-key-escrow it doesn't seem to me that the problem itself is technically impossible: it's just practically so.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Robust age verification with anonymity...

      The way to do it robustly and anonymously would be to have a "trusted" third party do the verification - like how you use PayPal because you don't trust a semi-random website with your credit card details.

      I could see PayPal being the ideal company to provide this, however I can see them not offering it for puritanical reasons.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Robust age verification with anonymity...

        The hassle is, plenty of people may not have credit cards, driving licence, passport or other "easy" ID for age verification.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Robust age verification with anonymity...

        "I could see PayPal being the ideal company to provide this"

        A good choice, but it will probably end up with Facebook doing it because thanks to all the personal data they have accumulated they will know who you are even when you don't use Facebook.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Robust age verification with anonymity...

      It is PHYSICALLY impossible to have BOTH anonymity AND attribution without resorting to some third party who can itself be subverted. It's just like with voting. You can either have a FREE (anonymous) vote or a TRUE (attribution) vote because security demands no third-party involvement.

  11. Arsey-grump
    FAIL

    I'm pretty sure a VPN will be all that's required. Just ask your average tech-savvy 12 year old boy! Doh..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just ask your average tech-savvy 12 year old boy! Doh..

      Just post on Craigslist:

      Wanted: 12year old boy to come round to my house to help me watch porn.

      1. m-k

        re: Wanted: 12year old boy to come round to my house to help me watch porn.

        these days even JOKING about it might get you in trouble, never mind the actual ad :/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: Wanted: 12year old boy to come round to my house to help me watch porn.

          That's why I got my parliamentary researcher to post anonymously

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