Owner of Pornhub Reveals Age Verification Tool for UK

    Photo by Michael Coghlan/Flickr

    Mindgeek, the owner of Pornhub, has revealed what might become the default tool for gatekeeping of porn in the United Kingdom. AgeID will require visitors of porn sites to create an encrypted login that will verify their age across any compatible site, saving them from having to prove that they are 18 years old or older every time they want to view some lewd material. The said system will pick up from third-party age verification companies. However, Mindgeek ensures that AgeID would not store any personal info as it will only retain “standard technical data” in order to prevent fraud as well as the protected login.

    The said technology would be made available to every porn site that is available inside the United Kingdom. It will be free for independent producers, bloggers, and porn studios in the United Kingdom, and will require a flat fee for others depending on the volume of British traffic. The technology should be available in April when the law mandating age checks in the United Kingdom called the Digital Economy Act, takes effect.

    This is not the very first implementation of AgeID. It has already been in use in Germany since 2015. However, there seem to be questions regarding the control that it would hand over to Mindgeek and some of its brands (which include YouPorn, Brazzers, and RedTube among others).

    If there is no major viable alternative, a porn distributor may be able to effectively determine how everyone else checks the ages of their users. And it is still not clear what is considered as an “independent” studio. Will there be a fixed metric, or will Mindgeek make use of subjective criteria? While there is no immediate sign that it intends to take advantage of its first-mover advantage as the company could have easily charged everyone, there is a lingering concern that the company may have the power to choose which porn sites succeed — and that the government of the United Kingdom may have given too much trust to a private company regarding its regulatory power.