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'Porn block' delayed for third time after govt climbdown

Sky News logo Sky News 19/06/2019 Rowland Manthorpe and Alexander J Martin
a close up of a bottle: The proposed scheme requires porn sites to verify their users' ages © Getty The proposed scheme requires porn sites to verify their users' ages

The government's porn age verification scheme is to be indefinitely delayed, according to Sky sources.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Secretary Jeremy Wright is expected to announce the climbdown in Parliament on Thursday.

The regulator, the British Board of Film Classification, was told of the development on Wednesday afternoon.

Video: What Is The 'Porn Block'? (HuffPost UK)

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After a delay of over a year, the DCMS announced on 17 April the age verification scheme, widely-known as the porn block, would come into force on 15 July.

The world-first scheme proposed to prevent young people "stumbling across" porn online by checking the age of every porn watcher in the UK.

However, it proved controversial, with campaigners raising fears that it would enable widespread tracking of porn watchers' identities and browsing habits, creating the potential for blackmail and online surveillance.

© Stenko Vlad/REX/Shutterstock

Sky News understands the issue was not technical, but bureaucratic.

When laying the BBFC's guidance in Parliament in late 2018, DCMS failed to notify the European Commission as it is required to, undermining the legal basis of age verification.

The age verification scheme was first proposed in the Conservative manifesto of 2015.

Then-culture secretary Sajid Javid warned the restrictions it imposed were key for "protecting children".

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