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Top porn sites must verify ages to protect kids under European Union new digital law

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Top porn sites must verify ages to protect kids under European Union new digital law

Pornhub, XVideos and Stripchat have now been classed as very large online platforms subject to more stringent controls under the Digital Services Act because they have more than 45 million users each, according to the European Commission, the EU's executive branch.

FP Staff December 20, 2023 20:31:07 IST Top porn sites must verify ages to protect kids under European Union new digital law

EU headquarters in Brussels. File Photo- AP

With an aim to expand the reach of its digital law designed to keep people safe on the internet, the European Union has introduced new requirements for three of the world’s largest porn websites, namely Pornhub, XVideos, and Stripchat, making it mandatory to verify the ages of users, it said on Wednesday.

The 27-nation bloc announced on Wednesday that these platforms will now be subjected to stricter controls under the Digital Services Act, designed to enhance internet safety. The criteria for these controls include verifying the ages of users.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch classifies these platforms as very large online entities, as they each have more than 45 million users. This move marks the first time that porn sites have been targeted under the Comprehensive Digital Services Act, which imposes stringent obligations to protect users from illegal content and questionable products.

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The Digital Services Act allows for fines of up to 6% of global revenue or even a ban on operating in the EU for violations. Nineteen other online platforms and search engines, including TikTok, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and Google, have already been identified for increased scrutiny under the DSA.

The law includes provisions to protect children by preventing them from accessing pornographic content online, including with age verification tools, the commission said in a press release.

France, Germany and Britain and US states including Utah and Texas have drafted laws requiring porn sites to verify a user is 18 or older. Methods could include checking credit cards or government-issued ID or scanning faces to estimate ages, but all those systems have raised concerns about privacy and discrimination.

Europe’s digital law also calls for measures to curb the risk of spreading illegal content online, such as child sexual abuse material, or content that breaches fundamental rights like privacy, such as non-consensual images or deepfake porn.

These measures can include adapting their terms and conditions, interfaces, moderation processes or algorithms, among others, the commission said.

The DSA kicked in for the biggest online platforms in August. The requirements also include carrying out risk assessments, giving researchers access to publicly available data and filing regular transparency reports.

The EU has used the law to crack down on Elon Musk’s social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, by opening an investigation on Monday into whether it failed to do enough to stop the spread of illegal content such as hate speech or incitement of terrorism.

With inputs from AP.

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