Publishers and tech companies fight back against plans for 'age-gated' web

Josh Hall's picture
by Josh Hall

A group of media, tech, and gaming companies have come together to fight against the Information Commissioner's Office's demands for "age-gating" across the web.

The ICO is pushing for wide-reaching new rules that would require publishers to create "child-friendly" versions of their websites, and prevent access by minors to inappropriate content.

Under the proposals children would be locked out from parts of the internet that could cause them harm. The ICO includes in this definition not only mature content but also location and preference tracking, and "nudges" such as Facebook Likes.

In order for adults to prove their right to access the rest of the web, an age verification process would be required. Publishers have pointed out that the only way to achieve this would be for each individual site to collect scans of official documents such as passports or driving licences - a burden that the industry says it simply would not be able to bear.

Under the ICO's proposal the new rules would apply to huge portions of the web, including social networks, shopping sites, and news publishers.

Digital companies including games industry body Ukie and the Coalition for a Digital Economy have angrily pushed back against the plans, saying that they are not practical or realistic.

A consultation on the proposals ends today.

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