VPN Searches Triple After UK Porn Ban Announcement

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VPN searches tripled following the announcement of an upcoming porn ban in the UK as people made desperate attempts to figure out how they could bypass the law.

The government confirmed the news of the ban yesterday, meaning from July 15, 2019, all internet users wishing to access pornographic material will have to prove they’re 18 or older via formal identification, otherwise they’ll be entirely blocked from seeing adult content.

The new restrictions are being put into place to reduce the number of children who are negatively influenced by pornographic content online, which the government believes is too easy to access.

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However, it’s clear a lot of under-18s aren’t going to give up that easily, as according to the Independent, searches for VPNs on Google tripled in the hours following the government’s announcement.

A VPN is a virtual private network, which works by re-routing the traffic through various different internet servers in order to scramble and disguise the real IP address of a user’s smartphone, tablet or computer.

As a result, it looks as if a device is accessing a website from a different country or location than it actually is, meaning underage users could bypass the government’s verification system.

Some VPN services charge people to use them, but many offer free versions with limits on the amount of data that can pass through them.

The upcoming ban has been criticised by many, who argue the new rules are fundamentally flawed due to the ease of which they can be bypassed:

Margot James, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, spoke about the reasoning behind the ban.

She said:

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online.

The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content.

We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

According to the Independent, executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, said the government will need to compel companies to enforce privacy standards, to ensure information used in the age-verification process is kept safe.

He said:

The idea that they are ‘optional’ is dangerous and irresponsible. Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer’s paradise – of the government’s own making.

Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government’s own fault. The government needs to shape up and legislate for privacy before their own policy results in people being outed, careers destroyed or suicides being provoked.

We’ll have to see how effective the new law is when July rolls around.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.