Various issues relating to electronic communications services, otherwise known as the digital economy, are tackled by The Digital Economy Act 2017 (‘the Act’).

Cagin Husnu of Kangs Solicitors comments upon one of those issues, being the implementation of age verification to restrict access to pornographic websites, which comes in to effect at the end of April 2019.

Digital Economy Act 2017 | Kangs Digital Economy Advisory Team


The Act states at section 14:

Internet pornography: requirement to prevent access by persons under 18

  1. A person contravenes this subsection if the person makes pornographic material available on the internet to persons in the United Kingdom on a commercial basis other than in a way that secures that, at any given time, the material is not normally accessible by persons under the age of 18.’

In support of the above, the Act provides at:

  • Section 14(2) – for the determination of whether or not material is to be regarded as being available on a commercial basis.
  • Section 14(3) – for the determination of whether material made available free of charge is to be regarded as being made available on a commercial basis.
  • Section 15 – for the definition of pornographic material.
  • Section 16- provides for the functions of an ‘age-verification regulator’.

Powers of the age-verification regulator

In the exercise of the statutory powers, the age-verification regulator may, by notice:

  • require a ‘relevant person’ to provide it with any information which it requires for the purpose of exercising, or deciding whether to exercise any function where
  • a ‘relevant person’ is:
    • an internet service provider, or
    • any other person believed to be involved, or to have been involved, in making pornographic material available on the internet on a commercial basis to persons in the UK.

Financial Penalties For Breach of The Act.

The age-verification regulator may impose a financial penalty of such amount as considered appropriate and proportionate but it must not exceed whichever is the greater of:

  • £250,000 or
  • 5% of qualifying turnover, the meaning of which is defined in the Act.

How Can We Help? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors

It will be observed that the level of financial penalty that may be imposed under the Act for any breach is extremely substantial.

At Kangs Solicitors we field a team highly experienced in dealing with Regulators of all types throughout the country on a daily basis.

Should you wish to discuss any issue arising out of this article or any other regulatory matter, please do not hesitate to contact our team through the following:

John Veale
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396

Helen Holder
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07989 521 210