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DCMS: Child Safety Online: Age Verification

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has consulted on how to prevent under-18 year olds accessing free adult content websites. They are proposing to introduce a new legal requirement for adult content websites to have robust age verification controls in place, and to support this through a new regulatory framework. One of the suggested elements of the framework would be for payment providers to withdraw their services from the website if they are found in breach of the law.

We have replied in support of the overall proposals, while emphasising the need for a statutory underpinning, supported by a robust regulator taking an active role in monitoring compliance. While the card payments industry has a strong record in ensuring legal compliance of its merchants, payments institutions need clear and unequivocal evidence to take action such as terminating contracts with merchants. Payment institutions also cannot make judgments on the suitability of content or age verification processes on websites; this would need to be monitored by the new regulator.

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