Requirements for pornographic websites to verify UK users are over 18 will come into effect soon, and the BBFC is in charge of issuing guidance for how age verification (AV) tools must operate. Ensuring children and young people are protected, educated and given parental care is vital, however we have grave concerns about the apparent reliance on age verification to achieve this, and the technology itself.

The Government is leaving it up to private companies to create AV technology. That means companies will collect highly sensitive records of the public’s porn watching habits, yet there is no plan for the Government to issue strict privacy guidelines for AV tools.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a vivid reminder that private companies are not reliable guardians of our personal data. There is no excuse why the Government should not be prioritising privacy for AV technology.

The BBFC is holding a call for public comment on AV guidelines until April 23. Please respond to the consultation today and tell them privacy must be integral to AV tools. You can use the bullet points below to help craft your own unique message.

• AV tools may create a sensitive record of the public’s porn watching habits. The consequences of a breach would be catastrophic for millions of UK citizens. Privacy must be a priority.

• Between the BBFC and the ICO, there is a regulatory gap where nobody is assigned to oversee privacy. This is inviting disaster.

• In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a failure to take privacy concerns seriously is unconscionable. Private companies are clearly capable of disregarding user privacy, so they require strict privacy guidelines.

• It is in the BBFC’s interest to make sure AV tools protect the public’s privacy. If a breach occurs, people will see both the BBFC and the Government as responsible.

Read more about ORG's position on this consultation here.