Below is the text of the speech made by Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, in the House of Commons on 24 April 2019.

On 17 April 2019, my Department announced that age-verification for online pornography will begin on 15 July 2019. This means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are aged 18 or over.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with this new regulation. Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or may be blocked for UK users.

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age verification is a world-first, and we have taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

We have also listened carefully to privacy concerns and take the issue of data privacy and security extremely seriously. We are clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. ​In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation standards, the BBFC has created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of age-verification providers. We feel that consumers should be able to choose age-verification solutions that meet an even higher privacy standard than is offered by GDPR if they wish to.

The AVC has been developed in co-operation with industry and Government. Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com, so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.