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Age checks for porn sites in Queen's Speech

Do Not UseDo Not Use 18/05/2016
Girl on laptop: How the government plans to implement the age checks is not clear © Thinkstock How the government plans to implement the age checks is not clear

The UK government will require pornographic sites to verify users are over 18 as part of a raft of measures announced in the Queen's Speech.

As part of its Digital Economy Bill, the government promises more protection for children online.

It also pledged more protection for consumers from spam email and nuisance calls, by ensuring direct consent is obtained for direct marketing.

And it reiterated its plans for driverless cars to be tested in the UK.

The Conservative Party pledged in its manifesto to increase protection for children online.

The forthcoming Digital Economy Bill will propose that all sites containing pornographic material must check that users are over 18.

The details of how this will work are not yet clear, and security expert Dr Gilad Rosner, who is a member of the Cabinet Office Privacy and Consumer Advocacy Group, said the government may struggle to implement the plan on free pornographic sites.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said the issue was "a matter of urgency" and that children who had ready access to adult content could develop a "warped" view of sexual relationships.

According to the government, one in five children aged 11-17 had seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them.

Other plans include:

Pushing further with the development of fast broadband and mobile networks

Changing the way the government uses data to deliver public services

Introducing a Universal Service Obligation for broadband, with minimum speeds of at least 10Mbps

New powers for Ofcom to release data such as customer complaints and broadband speeds

New measures to make switching providers easier for consumers

Last week the government confirmed that the Universal Service Obligation for broadband would be delivered "on request".

O2 chief executive Ronan Dunne said that the bill showed the government's commitment to getting better connectivity for the nation but more needed to be done.

"Whilst it is a step in the right direction for the rural areas not yet benefitting from mobile connectivity, investment in digital infrastructure is not just about reducing these connectivity blackspots."

"Over 23 million people have now signed up to 4G and existing networks but even in major cities these networks will soon be overwhelmed by the demand for data, Solving this issue not only requires a bold, long-term vision, it requires leadership and collective effort by industry, government, local authorities, regulators and the public."

As part of its Modern Transport Bill, the government wants to "ensure the United Kingdom is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles".

It will include legislation to make sure drones and autonomous vehicles are safe and to alter the insurance regime to take account of driverless cars.

Trials of automated cars are currently taking place in Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry. and there are more than 60,000 electric cars registered in the UK.

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