The government has just published a decree giving the CSA the possibility of closing pornographic sites which do not verify the age of Internet users. A hard blow for the majority of free platforms, which risk being banned in France.
The coming weeks could see much of the adult web disappear. Yesterday the government issued a decree on “Modalities for implementing measures to protect minors against access to sites disseminating pornographic content”. Through this new text, the executive now authorizes the CSA – which will soon merge with Hadopi – to block access to pornographic sites which do not control the age of Internet users.
Concretely, the Superior Council of Audiovisual, which for a long time already dreams of being the gendarme of the Internets, will be able to order the closure of any pornographic site. For this, it will suffice for the French regulator to receive a report from an Internet user or a consumer association. The site will then have 15 days to comply with French law, under penalty of which it may be penalized with a sentence of 3 years in prison and a € 75,000 fine (according to article 227-24 of the Penal Code). If after this period, the platform still allows minors to access adult content, it will be banned from the French web.
The impossible verification
At present, the majority of free porn sites are simply content with a window asking the user in advance whether or not he is over 18 years old. A technique which, unsurprisingly, shines neither for its effectiveness, nor for its deterrence. The problem is that while this decree is intended to protect minors from premature access to online pornography, it is impossible, in fact, to set up a real verification at the entrance to adult sites.
In Britain, the government had previously attempted to impose verification of an identity document to access pornographic platforms. The idea was not meaningless, but it posed several serious problems. Not only did the control system not make it possible to ensure that the person behind the screen was really the one appearing on the identity document, but it also meant letting companies – often based abroad – collect a large number of identity documents, with all the risks that this implies.
YouPorn and PornHub in danger
If no text contradicts the government decree by then, the coming weeks could therefore see the announced death of several pornographic sites, and in particular of “Tubes”, these free platforms often singled out for hosting revenge porn and other content featuring sexual violence.
At the end of the procedure carried out by the CSA, the sanctioned companies will see their site banned using DNS blocking protocol. Recently brought to light for being at the origin of the Facebook outage, the DNS (Domain Name System) consists in connecting a domain name (journaldugeek.com) to an IP address readable by the servers. By entering the address of a sanctioned site, Internet users could now be redirected to an information page belonging to the CSA. Two rooms, two atmospheres.