Pornhub ‘will collect names and addresses of users’ under this year’s new porn laws

Rob Waugh
Contributor
rex

Porn giant Mindgeek – owner of Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn and Brazzers – will collect personal data such as names and addresses from all users from April on.

You’ll have to create a username and password to use Pornhub, and the site will ‘age verify’ users using data such as names, mobile phone number, addresses and dates and place of birth.

The AgeID system has caused alarm among privacy campaigners – who say it has the potential for Ashley Madison-style leaks.

‘You can imagine how much data that is going to give MindGeek, if they’re going to have stats on what people click on, what porn sites people click on, what they pay for,’ said porn site owner Pandora Blake at an Open Rights Group meeting in London last year.

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‘Once you’ve got a MindGeek login, you’re going to be giving them your entire web browsing history, because they’re going to be able to track every time you log in to anything.’

A MindGeek spokesman said, ‘AgeID has been built from the ground up with data protection, data minimisation and the principles of privacy by design at its core, while also complying with the GDPR.

‘This is why we where do not store any personal data entered during the age-verification process.”

‘Due to the encrypted nature of AgeID’s login credentials, such data cannot be exposed in the unlikely event of a hack.’

Critics of the measures have also warned that the new law could lead to a huge number of sites being blocked altogether – and to users having to sign up to ‘membership’ of porn sites.

The online ID checks will mean people will have to prove they are 18 before viewing any porn online, and are part of the Digital Economy Act 2018.

The new system will be policed by the British Board of Film Censorship, but porn publishers will implement their own age checks.

AgeID will prompt users to create an account, using a passport or mobile phone to confirm their age.

The data is passed to a government-approved service to confirm that the user is aged 18+ – then users can then use their AgeID account to bypass checks.

Sites which fail to ID users can be fined up to £250,000, and the government can ask payment services to withdraw their support.

But critics have suggested that the rules have been rushed – and that systems such as AgeID could be open to Ashley Madison-style leaks of user data.

Jim Killock Executive Director of the privacy group Open Rights Group said, ‘The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous. They are powerless to ensure people’s privacy.

‘The major publisher, MindGeek, looks like it will dominate the AV market. We are very worried about their product, AgeID, which could track people’s porn use. The way this product develops is completely out of BBFC’s hands.

‘Users will not be able to choose how to access websites. They’ll be at the mercy of porn companies. And the blame lies squarely with Theresa May’s government for pushing incomplete legislation.’

Killock also warned that censorship of porn sites could quickly spiral into hundreds or thousands of sites.

‘While BBFC say they will only block a few large sites that don’t use AV, there are tens of thousands of porn sites. Once MPs work out that AV is failing to make porn inaccessible, some will demand that more and more sites are blocked. BBFC will be pushed to block ever larger numbers of websites.’