An announcement slipped out today by the Government (no doubt hoping that the Brexit circus would distract everyone) confirms that the plans for compulsory age-verification checks for adult websites will not be going ahead. The plans had already slipped twice – originally planned to roll out in late 2018, it was postponed to July 2019, then was pushed back again to October due to incompetence. Now, Culture Minister Nicky Morgan has confirmed that the plans have been shelved (on the top shelf, presumably).
It does seem to be a universal rule that, as soon as something is invented, it will inevitably end up used for filthy sex stuff. Computers were no exception – I certainly remember the thrills some lads at primary school got from an illicitly-obtained copy of Sam Fox Strip Poker for the Commodore 64. The fact that none of us knew how to play poker hardly seemed to matter. The introduction of modems opened still more horizons – if you knew where to look, bulletin boards offered BBC Micro users a cornucopia (pornucopia?) of pixelated 8-bit erotica, as uncovered a few years ago by John Hoare (VERY NSFW LINK!).
Porn has been on the web for as long as the web has existed. In the olden days of dial-up, it was less of a problem, as postage stamp-sized RealPlayer windows playing at 5 frames per second did not offer much of a thrill. The content that was available was generally locked behind a paywall, requiring a credit card, beyond the means of most under 18s.
However, with the arrival of broadband, and the proliferation of free sites which offer (legally or not) hours of content completely free of charge, it has become a lot easier to find rude videos online. When I was at school, there was one lad at school who found one of his dad’s naughty magazines and brought it in for his mates to excitedly pore over. Now, with a smartphone in every pocket, everyone has instant access to stuff far more potent than a magazine, with no need to worry about the pages getting stuck together.