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Minister says 'porn block' law needs to be considered, but says privacy issues also a concern

Credit card details could be used to verify a person is over 18 under the new UK rules.

Image: Shutterstock/Sata Production

Updated May 22nd 2019, 4:19 PM

COMMUNICATIONS MINiSTER RICHARD BRUTON has said “there is a valid concern there” in relation to the regulation of commercial adult porn sites.

Yesterday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the Irish government will consider a similar system to the UK’s so-called ‘porn block’ law as part of new legislation on online safety.

As part of legislation passed in the UK in 2017, pornography sites will be expected, from 15 July, to have a robust age-verification system in place to ensure its UK users are over 18.

Although this will be regulated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the sites themselves will be allowed to decide exactly how they do it.

When asked about the issue today, Bruton said “there are also issues around privacy laws and this has to be carefully dealt with”.

“It would be my view that government through the strategy that we have published, we have a cross-government committee who is looking at policy development to ensure online safety, and I think that forum is the forum where I believe we will discuss what should be done in that area because I think there is a genuine public concern, it hasn’t been the subject of the Law Reform Commission or other scrutiny of legislation in this area, but it was worthy of consideration, but it does have its difficulties, as the UK indeed has recognised also.”

Flanagan said yesterday:

“I would be very keen that we would engage widely to ensure that Ireland could benefit from what is international best practice here and that is why we are looking at what is happening in other jurisdictions.”

Options being put forward in the UK include requiring adult users to buy a special card over the counter at a newsagents, where they will be asked to show photo ID to verify their age. The card will have a code on it that can be used to access the site.

Some sites will ask users to provide a scan of a passport or driver’s licence which will then be verified by a third party while others may ask for credit card details as proof a person is over 18.

TheJournal.ie previously reported that Ireland could be set to follow in the UK’s footsteps, and in a recent episode of The Explainer podcast, TheJournal.ie took a look at this UK legislation and the likelihood of similar laws being rolled out here. 

Flanagan said he believes that it is “important that every effort be made to protect young people particularly online”.


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

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