This week, the Cnil and the Arcom will present a device produced in collaboration with the office of Jean-Noël Barrot, Minister in charge of digital, and Charlotte Caubel, Secretary of State in charge of Children. It will force pornographic sites to really control the age of Internet users from September.
« Since the age of 12, a third of our children have already been exposed to pornographic sites. it’s a scandal “: these are the words of Jean-Noël Barrot, Delegate Minister in charge of Digital Transition and Telecommunications in Twitter. the parisianreports that Cnil and Arcom will introduce the device this week that will finally force porn sites to verify most users for a September rollout. The newspaper claims that, on average, children are 11 years old when they first access pornographic content on the Internet.
This is probably the beginning of the end of the famous simplistic ” I am older on porn sites. According to the French public authorities, it is not enough to verify the majority of an Internet user, since one can simply click on it.
Legislation already in force but not applied
In October 2021, a decree was published in the Official Gazette: a first provision to block pornographic sites by the State through Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which do not sufficiently control the age of Internet users. Soon after, it was the CSA (ex-Arcom) that threatened to block five sites for failing to verify most of them.
Sites in the pornographic industry currently rely on the courts to obtain at least a pardon and, at best, a resolution. Up to now, they have defended themselves by arguing that the State did not provide a specific solution or indication of verification. However, last October the Council of State ruled in favor of Arcom regarding the dispute between the two entities. Clearly, Pornhub and its competitors have not implemented robust enough verification.
In relation to the verification solution that the State wants to implement, it will be necessary to publish a decree, which will be previously validated by the European Commission as well as by the Council of State. For the environment of Jean-Noël Barrot, questioned bythe parisian«these authorities will not challenge the project», although they may require adjustments.
The State has found a mandatory device for pornographic sites
In a few days, such a device will be publicly presented and porn sites will have to comply.”under pain of seeing the distribution prohibited in the national territory“said the minister. A solution worked for nine months, in conjunction with Bercy, the Cnil, Arcom, the Ministry of Digital as well as the Secretariat dedicated to Children.
Asthe parisianwritten, it should be smartphone apps. The Minister explains that:When a user of a pornographic site wishes to access it, they must prove their age of majority by clicking on this digital certificate. It will work a bit like the control that your bank asks for when you make an online purchase, except that this majority certificate will be anonymous.“. The app could use FranceConnect or the soon-to-be-arrived digital identity app.
The newspaper adds that telephone operators “could, for example, be in the loop of these devices”, although no agreement has been finalized. On this point, it may be thought that it is possible to change the date of birth in a customer area, put one when contracting a mobile plan or simply have put the parent’s.
The flaws that this system reveals
Regarding the pornographic sites contacted by the journalists Aurélie Lebelle, Thomas Poupeau and Gaël Lombart, for the moment silence is imposed, as they know that for the moment they are illegal. This is without taking into account the incalculable number of pornographic sites on the net: the blocking will have to be massive, even automatic, to really prevent minors from accessing it.
As for the system that the government wants to implement, it has its flaws. First of all, only the use of a smartphone was mentioned. However, not everyone residing in France necessarily owns a smartphone: according to the latest Credoc digital barometer (January 2023), “87% of French people aged 12 and over now have a
smartphone“Indeed, we can think that the vast majority of Internet users also have a smartphone, but this is not the case for everyone. Furthermore, 90% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have one, which means that if there are solutions for this system through a smartphone, a large majority of adolescents will have the material means to apply them.
If porn sites do not meet legal age verification requirements, ISPs could block them in France. However, there are workarounds, such as changing the DNS or using a VPN.
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