OnlyFans Reports Age-Verification Glitch in UK

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A United Kingdom law that requires age verification for people to view adult content may have been violated due to a programming glitch by the adults-only video-sharing platform OnlyFans.

OnlyFans self-reported the glitch to Ofcom, the UK’s regulator and competition authority for communications industries, which announced the opening of an investigation into the matter. OnlyFans claims it corrected the glitch, reported The Guardian.

UK law requires that web platforms take measures to prevent persons under the age of 18 from accessing pornographic material.

“OnlyFans works closely with Ofcom to implement and develop best practices on online safety, including the use of age-assurance technology,” an OnlyFans spokesperson said, reported Reuters. “OnlyFans discovered the reporting error and proactively amended our report to Ofcom.”

“In addition to requiring that all users provide their name and payment card details, OnlyFans uses the Government-approved age assurance provider Yoti,” added the spokesperson, according to PA Media. “A coding configuration issue with Yoti led to a reporting error which stated a threshold was set to 23 years of age, during a period of time when it had been set to 20 –- always higher than the requirement of 18.”

Because of the error, persons under the age of 18 may have gained access to the adult content hosted by the website.

“Having reviewed submissions we received from OnlyFans in response to formal information requests, we have grounds to suspect the platform did not implement its age-verification measures in such a way as to sufficiently protect under-18s from pornographic material,” Ofcom said, per Reuters.

Ofcom said it was investigating the platform for potentially violating video-sharing platform (VSP) laws rather than the newly passed Online Safety Act (OSA). OSA features stiffer penalties that can reach as high as ₤18 million ($22.5 million) or 10% of a company’s global turnover. The full implementation of OSA has not happened yet, leading to the application of the older VSP regulations. VSP rules will be phased out as the newer OSA is implemented in phases, according to The Guardian.

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