Peers approve Brit film board as pr0n overlords despite concerns

Calls to iron out age-verification method and appeals process


Peers have rubber-stamped the British Board of Film Classification as the regulator for age checks on porn websites, but voiced concerns over delays in issuing guidance.

The government's Digital Economy Act requires that spank-viewing UK residents prove they are 18 or over, and it has proposed the BBFC as gatekeeper.

In the House of Lords yesterday, peers agreed to the motion – despite some having misgivings about the structure of the body.

"I still argue, and I will continue to argue, that it is not appropriate for the government to give statutory powers to a body that is essentially a private company," said Labour peer Lord Stevenson.

"The organisation and structure of the BBFC is not what you would find if it had been established under royal charter as a body operating in the public interest."

He added that he is still worried about the appeals process also being run by the BBFC – opposition peers tried unsuccessfully to have a separate body be given this role during debates on the Bill – saying it would effectively be both judge and jury.

UK.gov admits porn age checks could harm small ISPs and encourage risky online behaviour

READ MORE

However, culture minister Lord Ashton said that the BBFC was set up "as an independent non-governmental body with a corporate structure" and that the government had "done [its] best to ensure that the arrangements will be sufficiently independent".

Elsewhere in the debate, the minister was pressed on the time it had taken to get to the stage of designating the regulator, let alone issuing guidance. This is despite the age-verification checks due to come into force in April.

"Where we have got to is not particularly satisfactory if the general purpose of the age-verification regulator is to make sure that age verification really works and that there is not the access for young people to these pornography sites that the Act was designed to prevent," said Lord Clement-Jones.

The Lib Dem peer said that there were still concerns that the age-verification methods were not specified in enough detail in the government's draft guidance, adding that "nothing has changed" since it was being debated this time last year.

"That is extremely disappointing," said Clement-Jones. "It appears that the age-verification regulator will play an incredibly light touch role in the approval of the type of age verification that takes place."

Touching on concerns raised by privacy activists about how users' identities would be properly protected, Clement-Jones said he didn't think the privacy-by-design approach from the ICO would be "particularly onerous" for audiovisual providers and pornographers, in terms of requiring them to find an anonymised solution.

Ashton attempted to address such concerns about privacy by stressing that the government "absolutely agree" that the arrangements should only verify age, not identity.

The BBFC will work with the Information Commissioner's Office to ensure data protection standards are met by age-verification providers, Ashton said. He added that the pair are to draw up a memorandum of understanding "to ensure and clarify how they are going to work together and separate their various responsibilities".

Other questions raised during the debate were the boundaries between commercial and non-commercial services, and how to deal with extreme pornography.

"The easy question is: how is that going? Do we have any timescales?" asked Stevenson. "Do not say 'soon', please. The more difficult question is: how does that all fit together in trying to have a comprehensive package?"

Ashton argued that these were questions that would be answered in due course, and that the main point on the agenda today was designating the regulator. Only once that had happened could the regulator issue its own guidance on age-verification arrangements and that this couldn't happen until a regulator has been designated.

"If this House approves the regulator today, we will be well on the way to doing that, and we are definitely trying to do it as quickly as possible," he said.

"I am not trying to duck the issues that are still there, but they will come back and I am sure I will have to deal with them." ®


Other stories you might like

  • Your snoozing iOS 15 iPhone may actually be sleeping with one antenna open
    No, you're not really gonna be hacked. But you may be surprised

    Some research into the potentially exploitable low-power state of iPhones has sparked headlines this week.

    While pretty much no one is going to utilize the study's findings to attack Apple users in any meaningful way, and only the most high-profile targets may find themselves troubled by all this, it at least provides some insight into what exactly your iOS handheld is up to when it's seemingly off or asleep. Or none of this is news to you. We'll see.

    According to the research, an Apple iPhone that goes asleep into low-power mode or is turned off isn't necessarily protected against surveillance. That's because some parts of it are still operating at low power.

    Continue reading
  • China will produce one in five of the chips it uses in 2026, says analyst
    Well short of planned 70 percent domestic capacity

    China’s integrated circuit (IC) production has failed to keep pace with its appetite for silicon, with market research firm IC Insights predcicting the nation will produce only one in five ICs it uses in 2026.

    That figure is a increase from 2021's one in six, and reflects eight percent compound annual growth rate from 2021 to 2026. But it means China will miss its own targets for locally-made-and-consumed silicon.

    “Although China has been the largest consuming country for ICs since 2005, it does not necessarily mean that large increases in IC production within China would immediately follow, or ever follow” said the firm in a bulletin on Wednesday.

    Continue reading
  • Tencent happily parting ways with loss-making cloud customers
    Cutting costs across sprawling business as COVID makes life hard in China

    Chinese tech giant Tencent has recorded its first ever quarter-to-quarter revenue fall, warned that COVID-19 lockdowns will hurt messing with its business, and cautioned against assumptions that Beijing is ready to enthusiastically support tech companies.

    On its Q1 2022 earnings call yesterday, the company offered more explanation of its shifting cloud strategy.

    Chief strategy officer James Mitchell told investors the company is pleased to have shown loss-making cloud customers the door, and “proactively scaled back … deeply discounted infrastructure-only contracts for basic services such as cloud compute and content delivery network.” Projects that had high costs and/or relied on sub-contractors have also been scaled back.

    Continue reading
  • Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?
    A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

    Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

    It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

    Continue reading
  • Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask
    Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

    Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

    ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

    Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

    Continue reading
  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading
  • Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law
    Everyone's entitled to a viewpoint but what's your viewpoint on what exactly is and isn't a viewpoint?

    A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to block Texas' social media law HB 20 after the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted a preliminary injunction that had kept it from taking effect.

    The Lone Star State law, which forbids large social media platforms from moderating content that's "lawful-but-awful," as advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology puts it, was approved last September by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It was immediately challenged in court and the judge hearing the case imposed a preliminary injunction, preventing the legislation from being enforced, on the basis that the trade groups opposing it – NetChoice and CCIA – were likely to prevail.

    But that injunction was lifted on appeal. That case continues to be litigated, but thanks to the Fifth Circuit, HB 20 can be enforced even as its constitutionality remains in dispute, hence the coalition's application [PDF] this month to the Supreme Court.

    Continue reading
  • How these crooks backdoor online shops and siphon victims' credit card info
    FBI and co blow lid off latest PHP tampering scam

    The FBI and its friends have warned businesses of crooks scraping people's credit-card details from tampered payment pages on compromised websites.

    It's an age-old problem: someone breaks into your online store and alters the code so that as your customers enter their info, copies of their data is siphoned to fraudsters to exploit. The Feds this week have detailed one such effort that reared its head lately.

    As early as September 2020, we're told, miscreants compromised at least one American company's vulnerable website from three IP addresses: 80[.]249.207.19, 80[.]82.64.211 and 80[.]249.206.197. The intruders modified the web script TempOrders.php in an attempt to inject malicious code into the checkout.php page.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022