UK porn ID Porn Pass

From July 15, 2019 on, UK residents will need to prove they’re over 18 to access porn websites. The UK porn ID will be available in several ways, the least attractive of which is physically buying one in a shop, and was put in place by the politicians behind the Brexit mess. In this article, we’ll be go through the ins and outs of the so-called porn pass, and why it’s a terrible idea.

It’s terrible for several reasons, which we’ll talk about first, but mainly because it’ll be so easy to circumvent. We’ll talk about that in the last section. If you’re in a hurry because of…reasons, we recommend jumping to the relevant section from the table of contents.

Update June 20, 2019

The British government has decided that the porn pass is a terrible idea, after all, and has postponed its introduction “indefinitely.” Just in case anybody ever decides that it’s a good idea after all to make people buy permission to watch porn, we’ll leave this article as is, just know you don’t need to worry about age verification. Using a VPN is always a good idea, though, no matter where you are.

What Is the Porn Pass?

porn pass

From mid-July, anybody accessing porn sites from a UK IP address will be met with an age verification screen to make sure they’re over 18, much like they are now. There’ll be one little twist, though. You’ll have to upload some form of government ID — passport, driver’s license, etc. — or a credit card so your age can be verified. The check will cost somewhere 5 to 10 pounds, too.

The government won’t be running the verification system, either. The specter of Margaret Thatcher still roams Whitehall, so it’ll be done by private companies. One of the biggest of them, and set to be the most used, is run by a company called MindGeek, which is also the owner of Pornhub, YouPorn and dozens more websites.

The UK government has effectively made sure that company will be making money twice over from British porn aficionados: once on the porn and again on the age verification check.

If you’re not too enthusiastic about the idea of handing over your personal data to an internet body — and you shouldn’t be, check out our State of the Cloud columns for examples of why — you can physically go to a newsagent and buy a pass. Rather than handing your details over digitally, you’ll be admitting that you watch porn to somebody you might see every day.

The UK porn ID is, as you may have guessed, not the most popular idea to ever come out of London. People aren’t too happy that they’ll have to explain what they’re doing to their local newsagent or submit their ID digitally to a private company checking them. If it’s so unpopular, though, that begs the question why the porn pass is being forced through.

How the Porn Pass Came About

Until recently, the sale of hardcore pornography was illegal in the UK, which, of course, prevented anybody in Britain from watching it.

That’s not entirely true, though. As one drinking buddy told this writer one beery winter evening in Amsterdam, enterprising types would just load their car with dirty magazines and skin flicks in Holland and grab the boat. Cargo checks were never Her Majesty’s Customs’ favorite pastime, and the illicit goods could easily be sold for cash and at a decent profit.

That easy way to make extra dosh was basically cut off with the advent of the internet. Before the internet, Usenet was a decent source for porn, but when the world wide web became a thing, most people with an internet connection were only a torrent away from downloading their smut of choice.

That’s not to say the British didn’t produce anything. British porn has been around since Victorian times, and the domestic industry was worth about 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) in 2006. Porn-related terms are looked up more there than anywhere else in the English-speaking world, too.

British politics has a strong puritan streak running through it, though. Besides keeping porn illegal for much longer than any other country in Europe or North America, the UK is one of the few countries in which the discussion about whether it should be legal and who should have access to it flares up as often as it does.

Protecting the Littl’uns

Those debates usually center around the fear that children will see hardcore pornography. That’s a reasonable worry because teens and younger shouldn’t be watching some of the stuff that’s on the internet, but in British fashion, rather than educating people on how to protect their kids online, the pearl clutchers in Parliament want to make it harder for everybody to access it.

In the words of Pearl Clutcher Supreme and Minister for Digital and Creative Industries Margot James. “adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first […] We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

A noble goal, but it seems that the minister, and whomever else is behind the porn pass silliness, is missing a key point: this is the internet. You can get around almost anything. If China, one of the most totalitarian states in the world, can’t keep dissidents from tunneling under the Great Firewall, Britain has no chance to keep kids from watching porn.

UK Porn ID Problems

The reasons the British government will be hard-pressed to maintain the porn ID are several. First is the simple fact that the onus is on the citizen. If you want to watch porn, you have to upload your ID or go to a newsagent, spend money and basically admit to a third-party that you like to watch porn, which many people would prefer not to do.

Because of that, we predict that the porn pass is going to do no more but stimulate people’s creativity so that they can get around the new blocks, much as we see in countries with strict internet censorship of a more political nature.

Circumventing the porn pass is going to be easy, too. As Wired explains, there’s a lot of porn out there, and we dare the UK government to track it all down and block it. Even if this somehow is possible, we’ll bet serious money that within a few hours 20 more websites will pop up to offer British MILF videos and “leaked” sex tapes of whichever Essex girl needed some exposure that week.

Besides that, British people looking for private time will be able to torrent porn. As another example of how banning things doesn’t work, the closure of The Pirate Bay just led to the creation of dozens of alternative torrent websites, all of them offering copious amount of porn.

Lastly, we predict there’ll be a lively trade in black-market DVDs, just like the old days — that old drinking buddy will be delighted. All it takes is one guy willing to torrent who owns a burner and entrepreneurial bottle to start a small-to-medium distribution ring and the porn pass will be toast.

Even if none of these options are attractive, there are other ways to get past the UK porn ID, namely virtual private networks. They’re the easiest way to dodge any geoblock.

How to Avoid the UK Porn ID with a VPN

VPNs are a cool bit of technology in and of themselves. They allow you to simultaneously hide and secure your internet connection, keeping you well out of reach from PRISM and other surveillance programs as well as people looking to snoop on you, such as the UK’s Government Communications Headquarter and whomever will be enforcing the porn pass.

Read our full piece on VPN security for the details, but basically, a VPN will allow you to spoof your location so you show up somewhere else in the world rather than your actual location. It’s a great way to watch the Netflix offerings in other countries (read our Netflix VPN ban article for more on that), for example, or to make sure dissidents don’t get in trouble in certain countries.

Getting around the porn pass is simple. As the minister points out, only the UK has the insane law, so you just need to boot your VPN and redirect your connection to anywhere else (the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands are prime candidates), then you can watch porn without identifying yourself like a common criminal to do something billions of people get to do hassle-free every day.

We’ve compiled a guide to the best VPN for porn for almost anybody interested in a bit of self-abuse, and our picks will work just fine for UK-based readers. We also have a best VPN for the UK article, but thanks to the porn pass, the articles recommend nearly identical providers. If you’re not in the mood to read all that, you can jump directly to our ExpressVPN review.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a British resident worried about watching porn after July 15, 2019, don’t be. VPNs aren’t free, but they’re a damn sight easier to deal with than facing your local newsagent while buying permission to watch porn.

Because the current UK government isn’t up-to-date with how technology works — or anything else, really — we expect this workaround to be good indefinitely, though we wouldn’t be too surprised if the minister tries something pointless similar to the Russian VPN ban once this scheme fails.

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What do you think of the porn pass? Is it doomed to fail or destined to succeed? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.

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