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Privacy blunder as govt announces age verification commencement date

Posted at 12:28 on 19 Apr 2019 by Pandora / Blake

This week the DCMS announced that age verification will come into effect on 15 July 2019. Hilariously, they can't even send out a press release without making an embarrassing privacy mistake. From the Guardian this week: 

"Unfortunately for the government’s attempts to calm fears on the privacy issue, the news was announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport in an email that exposed the contact details of almost 300 recipients. DCMS was also responsible for implementing the new GDPR laws in the UK, which mandate large financial penalties for breaches that expose personal data."

We don't even need Private Eye - DCMS are more than capable of satirising themselves.  

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Tags: age verification, DCMS, in the news, media, Open Rights Group, privacy

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Age verification: Where do things stand?

Posted at 15:42 on 25 Mar 2019 by Pandora / Blake

After the Digital Economy Act passed in July 2017, implementation of age verification has been repeatedly delayed. We were initially told it would start being enforced in April 2018, but it was put back till the end of 2018. In November the Minister for Digital, Margot James, claimed that it will come into effect by Easter 2019, but as far as I know things aren't yet in place to enable the BBFC to begin enforcement.

This leaves website owners and viewers in a state of uncertainty, not knowing at what point they will need to start age verifying to access porn - or publish it. A recent YouGov survey showed that more than three-quarters of Brits have no idea this is even happening. Meanwhile, there are still irregularities and uncertainties with the policy, which I lay out in detail in my recent academic article: Age verification for online porn: more harm than good? My Patrons (at Ally tier and above) can access the full article here.

Which sites will have to comply?

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Tags: age verification, audio porn, Digital Economy Act, freedom of expression, in the news, media, Mindgeek, Open Rights Group, politics, porn, privacy, sex workers' rights

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What the BDSM community can teach us about consent

Posted at 18:29 on 14 Nov 2018 by Pandora / Blake

The Metro has just published a piece on What the BDSM community can teach us about consent. I was interviewed for this article last month, and I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

‘This idea that consent is a contract is really pernicious,’ Blake says. ‘Consent is revocable and ongoing, and being encouraged to change your mind is necessary for consent. By saying you’ve changed your mind, you’re helping your partner respect your boundaries.’ 

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Tags: BDSM, consent, in the news, interviews, media, workshops

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Age verification: new definition of "commercial" sites

Posted at 21:10 on 11 Oct 2018 by Pandora / Blake

Circumstances in which pornographic material is to be regarded as being made available on a commercial basis

The latest (and, I think, final) update to the Digital Economy Act has been laid in draft for approval: a Statutory Instrument defining the scope of "making pornographic material on a commercial basis". In the Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018, the Government specify in more detail which websites will have to comply with age verification:

  • Only websites where at least 33% of the content is pornographic material;
  • And only if the website is marketed as a pornographic website.

If your website is not "marketed as an internet site... by means of which pornographic material is made available to persons in the United Kingdom" (ie it's not advertised as being a porn site) and if "pornographic material makes up less than one-third of the content", the website is exempt from age verification and does not have to comply.

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, DCMS, Digital Economy Act, in the news, politics, porn, sex worker rights

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Privacy threat posed by AgeID hits the mainstream news

Posted at 19:53 on 9 Feb 2018 by Pandora / Blake

Pandora Blake talks about age verification on Sky News

One of the difficulties of campaigning in the arena of sex and sexuality is how difficult it is to get mainstream attention. Even when issues potentially affect the privacy and freedom of a majority of adults, most publications will post stuff related to sex as a lightweight "lifestyle" feature rather than as serious news.

So it was ground-breaking for Sky News to feature a report on the dangers of mandatory age verification, in particular the threat posed to personal privacy if MindGeek successfully establish a monopoly with their AgeID software. I watched the video as it was first broadcast live on the bus on my phone with my headphones on. It features an interview with me and - somewhat to my surprise - excerpts from my film trailers I had posted on YouTube. It's a trip to see (fully clothed) snippets from your indie porn films used to illustrate a mainstream news story - even more so when watching it on public transport!

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Tags: age verification, AgeID, Digital Economy Act, in the news, media, MindGeek, porn, privacy, security

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Feminist porn in the Hackney Citizen

Posted at 08:34 on 8 Oct 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Screenshot of article in the Hackney Citizen

Check out this awesome writeup of my feminist porn workshop in local paper the Hackney Citizen!

I was expecting quite a short piece - maybe something like this listing in Time Out (which coined the delightful phrase "patriarchy pounding pornos") but instead Hackney Citizen lavished 1200 words on the event, and went into quite a lot of detail about the subject matter too. The piece talks about the history of feminist porn, what makes porn feminist, the importance of good working conditions and what to look for behind the scenes, and how kinky sex and satire have a place in feminist porn.

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Tags: ethical porn, feminist porn, in the news, media, press, public speaking, talks, workshops

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Age verification critiqued on Radio 4

Posted at 18:35 on 30 Jul 2017 by Pandora / Blake

Photo of credit cards, one of the potential means of age verification mentioned by Digital Minister Matt Hancock

So while I was away this month, I got cited by a Radio 4 presenter.

I listened to the segment on the BBC website after a heads up from some kind folks on Twitter. You can listen to it here until Wed 16 August - the relevant section begins at 32:51. Presenter Eddie Mair was interviewing Matt Hancock, the Digital Minister, about the age verification policy enshrined in the Digital Economy Act 2017. Unfortunately, Matt Hancock didn't come across very well. He sounded bumbling and under-informed, unable to give any clear answers about how age verification will work in practice. After claiming that age verification won't require giving any identifying information, the only means of verifying your age that he was able to think of were a passport and credit card - both of which involve revealing your identity, and exclude many marginalised adults without access to these documents from being able to look at porn. Not only that, but it's in doubt whether credit cards will be accepted by the regulator as a compliant form of age verification, as it's possible for under 18s to have them. Clearly Matt Hancock hasn't spent much time looking into this.

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Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Act, Digital Economy Bill, in the news, interviews, Matt Hancock, media

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BREAKING: Digital Economy Act 2017 receives Royal Assent

Posted at 18:05 on 29 Apr 2017 by Pandora / Blake

I'm told that a grand total of 13 MPs showed up to the House of Commons vote on the Digital Economy Bill. If so, it's a pretty damning indictment of the democratic process. Rushing to get legislation through before Parliament recesses for the election campaign, a total of 21 Acts of Parliament received Royal Assent yesterday - and the newly minted Digital Economy Act 2017 was one of them.

After it was passed by the Commons, the Bill bounced back to the House of Lords for final consideration. I've only skimmed the transcript of the debate  so far, but as far as I can tell there were no substantive changes to Section 3, covering age verification for online porn.

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Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Bill, in the news, politics, porn

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The death of kink?

Posted at 15:40 on 10 Feb 2017 by Pandora / Blake

The Death of Kink? Interview in Artefact magazine

This week Artefact Magazine has published a short article on the Digital Economy Bill following a phone interview I did with journalist Nana Baah, who had already written a piece in December on Porn Censorship. This piece fleshes out the details of the censorship overshadowing the UK internet, and includes quotes from my interview with her, and by Jerry Barnett of Sex and Censorship. Jerry rightly links this sort of censorship, to "rising intolerance to free expression" that is permeating our politics at the moment, both in the UK and beyond. 

As well as pointing out the high costs of age verification software and the disproportionate impact this policy will have on small businesses, I talked about some of the knock-on effects of an increasing lack of accessibility to erotic media. '“I get messages daily from people who say that I have helped them to accept themselves, changed their lives and got rid of their shame. If you can’t find out that there are other people with these fetishes, learn about consent and how to practice it safely, then you might think that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. I did until getting online at 13 and seeing preview pictures of spanking - I finally thought ‘Wow, I’m not the only one’.”

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Tags: age verification, Digital Economy Bill, in the news, kink activism, media

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Restricting niche porn sites is bad news for people with marginalised sexualities

Posted at 09:41 on 30 Nov 2016 by Pandora / Blake

Restricting niche porn sites is a disaster for people with marginalised sexualities - Pandora Blake for The Guardian

Last week I had an article published in the Guardian about the impact of the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill, and its proposed restrictions on online porn. You can read it here - Restricting niche porn sites is a disaster for people with marginalised sexualities.

The article has received over one and a half thousand comments - and I was pleasantly astonished to discover that the majority of them are sympathetic or supportive. It seems that many people share my outrage that the Government think it a worthwhile use of time and money to legislate what consenting adults do for fun - or think that this bill is a proportionate, workable answer to the problems emerging from young people's lack of sex education.

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn, Guardian, in the news, kink acceptance, Kink Olympixxx, law, media, Myles Jackman, Obscene Publications Act, obscenity, porn, protest

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