The UK government’s upcoming Online Safety legislation could backfire in a big way as the overwhelming majority of the country’s adults are unwilling to upload an official ID to access adult websites.
According to a new survey from YouGov, 78 percent of the 2,000 adults surveyed would not be willing to verify their age to access adult websites by uploading a document linked to their identity such as a driver’s license, passport or other ID card.
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Of the participants who believe that visiting adult websites can be part of a healthy sexual lifestyle, just 17 percent are willing to upload their ID. When it came to those who believe adult websites should be accessible to everyone who is of age, 78 percent said they aren’t willing to upload an identity document to access these kinds of sites.
The main reason that UK adults are reluctant to upload their ID or other identity documents to access adult websites is privacy. More than half of respondents (64%) just “don’t trust the companies” to keep their data safe while 63 percent are scared their information could end up in the wrong hands. Just under half (49%) of those surveyed are concerned about adult websites suffering data breaches which could expose their personal information.
Bypassing the UK's Online Safety legislation
When respondents were asked who they believe should be responsible for keeping young people safe from visiting adult websites, just under a third (32%) said it falls on parents, almost a quarter (23%) said the responsibility falls on the government, an independent regulator or tech companies while a smaller number (19%) said the burden falls on the sites themselves.
Director of the privacy campaigner Open Rights Group, Jim Killock explained in a press release that those who want to access adult websites anonymously will just use a VPN if the UK’s Online Safety legislation passes, saying:
"The government assumes that people will actually upload their ID to access adult content. The data shows that this is a naive assumption. Instead, adults will simply use a VPN (as many already do) to avoid the step, or they'll go to smaller, unmoderated sites which exist outside the law. Smaller adult sites tend to be harder to regulate and could potentially expose users—including minors—to more extreme or illegal content."
In addition to a VPN, those looking to visit adult websites would likely use an anonymous browser that doesn’t track them across the web to further protect their privacy when accessing this sort of content.
Just like the UK’s ‘porn block’ that was supposed to come into effect back in July of 2019, the country’s Online Safety legislation could also fail to receive enough support to be implemented but we’ll just have to wait and see.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.