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UK government's draconian porn regulations force closure of gay magazine Dirtyboyz and its website www.dirtyboyz.xxx

Following the Conservative government's decision to press ahead with new regulations forcing websites which make money from adult content to carry an age verification system, the monthly free gay title Dirtyboyz and its website www.dirtyboyz.xxx have made the decision to close from 1st November 2018.

Legislation for the new age verification system was laid before Parliament last week and will be imposed at latest by January 2019 allowing the government's regulator the power to close down adult sexual sites if they fail to prevent children under 18 getting onto them.

The new age verification system will be mostly run by large adult content companies which themselves host major 'Tube' style porn sites. Anyone seeking access to sites making money from porn will have to prove they are over 18 via these third party firms which will use people's mobile phones, cards bought in newsagents, passports or credit cards to check ages and then confirm them back to the adult website being visited.

The government has given no safeguards about the privacy and security of users' personal data and their credit card information.

It would force online readers of Dirtyboyz to publicly declare themselves.

The new age verification system is being run for the government by its chief censor, the industry-funded regulator the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which has a history of banning gay adult films. The new age verification rules are the most draconian approach to porn regulation of any country in Europe - and are the first of their kind in the world.

The BBFC has powers to order ISPs to block adult sites that fail to bar under 18s and has agreements with payment card firms that they will withdraw services to errant firms. A hotline will be on the BBFC's website for the public to report breaches. The new age verification guidelines will apply to everyone and anyone who makes money from online porn, anywhere in the world - those who don't meet the requirements will be blocked by ISPs in the UK.

The BBFC will contact online porn publishers that aren't complying with the rules, and they'll either have to add age verification or be subject to a range of punishments. These include notifications to their payment processor that they're in breach of the law, notices to any "ancillary service provider" that provides them with internet services, civil legal action against them following an enforcement notice and measures to block access to the content from UK ISPs.

Although aimed at stopping children seeing pornography, most experts agree that this is near impossible with social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr remaining open for sexual content - and therefore the new approach will fail to achieve its aim whilst deeply affecting the British adult porn industry and associated publications and websites like Dirtyboyz.

Ominously, however, a decision on extending the age verification system to Twitter Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites will be made next year after its impact is reviewed by the BBFC and the government.

As tech website Wired reported in April: "The potential risk of a breach in any system that could be involved in keeping bulk records of users' identities and - depending on how such systems are implemented and what data they record - sexual proclivities" should be a real concern to the LGBT community.

Telegraph news report 11th October 2018: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/11/underage-children-could-blocked-using-social-media-sites

The Digital Economy Bill: www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-economy-bill-part-3-online-pornography

Open Rights Group: "Porn viewing histories for 20m people: What could possibly go wrong?" www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/digital-economy-bill-hub/age-verification

Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman: http://mylesjackman.com/index.php/my-blog/117-age-verification-for-online-pornography-and-privacy