In an effort to curb minors’ access to adult content online, the French government is preparing to implement a new system requiring users to prove their age before accessing pornographic websites. The proposed solution involves the installation of a dedicated application that verifies the user’s age and grants them access accordingly. This move is set to take effect in September.
Here’s how the system is expected to work: Users will need to download an age verification application, which will then facilitate the process of obtaining a certification from a third-party entity confirming the user’s adulthood. This third party could be the user’s internet service provider or their bank. Once the certification is obtained, it serves as an anonymous proof of majority, which can be presented to adult websites to gain access.
However, there are concerns surrounding the effectiveness and security of this system. Critics argue that it is easily circumvented using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Users can simply connect through a server in another country, rendering the age verification system ineffective. Furthermore, there are free VPN solutions available that could become more popular as a result of this regulation.
Another concern is the security of the age verification application itself. There are worries about potential data breaches and the risk of personal information being compromised. Additionally, some free VPN services are known to finance their operations by tracking users’ online activities or even containing malware.
Implementing this age verification system may prove challenging, especially for websites hosted outside of France. Compliance costs and potential complications could lead smaller websites to either ignore French regulations or block access from France altogether.
It’s worth noting that pornographic content is available on various platforms, including social media sites like Twitter and Reddit, and in messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp. Access providers might be required to block access to websites that do not implement the age verification system, but as mentioned earlier, VPNs can easily bypass such restrictions.
This regulatory change is expected to come into effect in September, and further details regarding its implementation will be presented by the French National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL) and the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom) in the coming week.