What's your porn identity?

Posted at 16:00 on 1 Dec 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Bill, Myles Jackman, Open Rights Group, queer porn

In early November I gave a talk with Myles Jackman at ORGCon, the UK’s biggest digital rights conference. Journalist Wendy Grossman (@wendyg) facilitated a discussion with me and Myles (@MylesJackman) about age verification.

We outlined the issues as well as we could in 20 minutes - which isn't long given the complexity of the situation. I mentioned that the whole premise of the Digital Economy Act - that children can ‘stumble across’ porn and be damaged by it - is not backed up by any evidence. We also talked about the unworkability of implementation within the deadline; with enforcement announced for April 2018, the regulator has still not been appointed, and porn producers in the UK aren't going to have enough time to evaluate and choose an age verification service. 

This is bad news when MindGeek, who have a near-monopoly on porn ‘tube’ sites and are therefore effectively the main gateway for UK porn users, are likely to clean up and instantly establish a monopoly on age verification too. This will result in small porn business owners paying a usage tax to their main market competitor, who are already profiting from their stolen content. Meanwhile MindGeek will own all the browsing data of everyone using their system, which will be extremely lucrative for them; their income comes from advertising, so knowing what people look at is very valuable. MindGeek curate porn in a way that promotes mainstream heteronormative content: increasing their market dominance will make it harder for queer/niche porn to be found. As if that wasn't bad enough, MindGeek have already suffered a number of large data breaches, and the security and privacy implications are terrifying.  

The talk was recorded and you can watch it on the Open Rights Group youtube channel, along with the rest of ORGcon: What's Your Porn Identity?

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