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Porn site age verification roll-out will be delayed for up to six months after 'notification process' error

The Government has delayed the introduction of the scheme by up to six months. Credit: PA

The introduction of online porn age verification checks has been delayed for a second time.

The new measures, the first of their kind anywhere in the world and brought in to clamp down on underage users, were due to come into force on July 15.

However Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the House of Commons this morning the setback had been caused because an "important notification process was not undertaken for an element of this policy".

He added: "I regret to say this will delay the commencement date, I expect this will result in a delay in the region of six months" he said, confirming the European Union had not been correctly notified about the parts of the policy.

The postponement is the second as the plans were originally delayed from April last year.

Sky News also said it had seen a copy of a letter to regulator the British Board of Film Classification from a lobby group representing online pornographers, warning that without a delay there would be “less protection for public data”.

The rules are designed to make it harder for children to access online pornography. Credit: PA

Under the plans, designed to make it harder for under-18s to access porn, websites that fail to implement the rules face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK internet users.

The government has previously said that users will be able to verify their age in a number of ways, including using traditional forms of ID such as a credit card or passport, or by buying an over-the-counter card from shops where verification would take place face-to-face.

Announcing the measures in April, Digital Minister Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first and we’ve 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.”

Campaigners have raised concerns over the tools, however, warning that they could have consequences for user privacy.

After the April announcement, Jim Killock, of the Open Rights Group, said on Twitter: “#ageverification dangers are obvious, from outing people to ruining careers and even suicides.

“What porn you watch can be very sensitive information. It’s striking that MPs don’t seem concerned, it’s not like public knowledge about watching porn has never impacted an MPs career.”

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The Government said alongside requirements for age-verification providers to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it had created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of the providers.