Government spent £2.2m on ditched porn-block plan

Written by Sam Trendall on 29 October 2019 in News
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Minister reveals seven-figure spending on development of ill-fated policy

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The government spent a total of £2.2m developing and supporting the planned implementation of its abandoned proposal to require age verification for adult content online.

The plan – popularly referred to as the porn block – has been a source of controversy and criticism since it was first announced. The implementation of the policy, which was initially slated for April 2018, was delayed several times – most recently being put back indefinitely in June.

It was announced earlier this month that the proposals have now been shelved for good. 


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In a written statement to parliament, digital, culture, media and sport secretary Nicky Morgan said the aims of the age-verification scheme “will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals”.

In answer to a follow-up written question, posed by shadow DCMS secretary and Tom Watson, digital minister Matt Warman revealed that a large sum of money had already been spent on developing the now-defunct policy.

“Development costs from 2015-2016 were met through existing DCMS headcount resources,” he said. “Since 2016, the government has spent approximately £2.2m through a contractual agreement with the British Board for Film Classification to implement age verification for online pornography. Building on that work, we are now establishing how the objectives of part three of the Digital Economy Act can be delivered through our online harms regime.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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