Age Verification was introduced in the Digital Economy Act (Part 3). This was part of implementing a 2015 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to restrict access to “harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material…”
How should it work
The act will do this by creating a regulator who will require pornography sites to have age verification controls in place for sites accessed from the UK. The regulator can notify payment providers (like credit card companies) and ‘ancilliary companies’ (like advertisers) of sites which don’t comply. The intention is that they could then withdraw services. The regulator can also require ISPs to take steps to prevent access to non-compliant sites.
The regulator will also be able to take similar action against sites which carry ‘extreme pornographic’ material.
The act is intended to cover both free and paid for websites.
Tbe BBFC was designated as the regulator by the government and is currently in the process of drawing up guidance on how they will put this into practice. The guidance will need approving by Parliament and will then come into effect three months after that.
See here for official documents relating to the Act