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On the basis of the legislation taken in United Kingdom, the minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly mentioned that the Government must enact new laws for websites with pornographic content about the age verification.

According to other legislations that have been implemented, Jim Daly said that he is totally in agreement with the introduction of so-called ”porn block” legislation, which means that no juvenile will be able to have access to pornographic sites. He also completed that the UK laws do not abstain from the proposals he made for the online age validation system on social media. “The recent bill passed in the UK that now requires all individuals who want to access pornography websites to verify they are over the age of 18 proves the online verification codes proposal can work and is worth progressing,” said Mr. Daly and continued: “I would ascertain this new law should not be restricted to pornography only – all inappropriate access should be captured.”

As defined by the UK laws, users are required to give some personal data and produce passport and driving licenses, which are described as “porn passes”, whenever they want to sign up to these websites. Then, these “porn passes” will be sold in shops to those who can prove that they are adults and are allowed to have access to pornographic sites. The goal of this act is to protect minors from adult content.

However, there are many protests from civil rights groups as they fear that there is the risk of violating the personal data and that the Digital Economy Act will force people underground or on to the dark web where they could access illegal content. Protests and criticism were also against the proposals announced by Mr Daly.

In Ireland, the minimum age for signing up to social media websites is only 13. “The average age of owning a smartphone is now as low as just nine years old. We really need to think long and hard about how we are failing our children by handing over to them full and unfettered access to viewing or purchasing highly inappropriate products that could damage their mental well- being irreversibly” supported Jim Daly and supplemented: “We will live to regret it if age controls are not introduced for certain websites.”

 

 

Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the United States, announced the prohibition on buying vaping products from people under the age of 21, starting in July.

Walmart will increase the minimum age for buying tobacco products on July 1, taking new measures about the procedure of sale to minors. This serious decision was taken after the exhortation of the Food and Drug Administration, which sent a letter, asking to present a precise plan to abolish the illegal sale of such products to minors. Walmart also banned the sale of “fruit and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems” and all devices of vaping.

However, apart from Walmart, there are other stores such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, which also announced that they are going to follow a new age verification system and take tighter measures to buy tobacco products from young people. The former will implement the new rules in September and the latter in a few days. Indeed, the Senator Mitch McConnell, even though he has been a big supporter of the tobacco industry, decided to introduce a bill in order to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and in general of such products to minors.

Moreover, Walmart mentioned that one of their goals is to improve the age verification system and make it more accurate and safe in order to protect young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed, “e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products, but they are not safe for youths’’.

According to a survey that conducted, it was found that the use of e-cigarettes and tobacco increased by 38% among high school students and by 29% among middle school students, which is a percentage that fully justifies the measures to be taken for these products. The big vaping companies, such as Juul, Altria, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, also supported this act for the restriction of sales to youths and hundreds of metropolitan areas, such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, San Antonio, etc. have made it illegal for people who are under 21 years old to buy tobacco products.

New rules are to be implemented today, on Tuesday, 7 May about age verification procedures and systems for online operators. UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) decided that it is imperative be taken strict measures that will prohibit the uncontrollable access to gambling sites and protect minors.

The new legislation aims to ensure operators comply and verify quickly and reliably user’s age and personal data. This means that many changes will be in force about the new license condition in 17, the Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.2.11 for age verification for remote betting and gambling and the Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.2.13 for some remote lotteries.

The Commission published consultation responses document in which detailed reference is made of LCCP (License Conditions and Codes of Practice) changes. All gambling operators are required to follow the new rules, otherwise they will be penalized. Specifically, every online operator must validate the name, the age and the date of birth before allowing him to sign up and gamble online. Therefore, those who have not registered their details and have not been verified, will be prevented and blocked from such sites until they have gone through the verification process. However, online operators must be very careful about customer’s funds. According to the Competition and Market Authority, gambling operators do not have the right to confiscate the money and winnings of users even if they are not been validated.

‘’Gaining a better understanding of the impact of gambling on children and young people is a key priority for the Commission. This newly released framework will provide critical insight into the range of harms that young people in Britain can experience and will help greatly in concentrating the National Strategy’s prevention and education initiatives where they will have the most impact. This will take time and the framework will evolve as we move into the next phase of this work. We encourage our partners in delivering the National Strategy, including public health officials and academics to feed back to us as we move into the next phase of work’’ said Helen Rhodes, programme director for safer gambling at the UKGC.

On 15 July 2019, UK will be the first country to implement measures about age verification for online pornography in order to ensure the protection of minors and user’s data.

This means that websites with pornographic content must create effective systems so as to check age of users and new measures will be taken, preserving user’s personal details and privacy. The commercial providers of online pornography will also be directly affected by the new laws as they will be obliged to follow exactly the relevant legislation, carrying out continuous age verification checks. On this basis, 88% of UK parents are without a doubt, in agreement with the new laws as they want to protect their children from exposure to this content and to dangers on the internet in general.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. As it has been mentioned before, the legislation will be implemented on 5 July, leaving websites with this kind of content to adapt to the new situation and comply with the new rules. ‘’Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this’’ said the Minister of Digital Margot James.

However, the British Board of Film Classification does not make do only with the new legislation and compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards. Thus, BBFC decided to create a voluntary certification scheme, the Age Verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers, with the Government to be fully content with this innovative decision. More details about age verification providers will be posted on the BBFC’s age verification website.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin supported that age validation system will remove minors from pornographic content and will ensure a more safe internet in the UK, supplementing: ‘’On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.’’

The Government’s goal is to make the UK the safest online place in the world. According to this, CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting said that they are certain that Government will restrict and abolish online pornography, protecting thus children and specifically those who are not emotionally ready to receive such images. However, he also claimed: ‘’While our research shows that parents overwhelmingly support age-verification and are confident it will make a difference, we must recognize that digital solutions aren’t the only answer and parents can’t become complacent about their child’s digital world.’’ He also argued that the most right and appropriate is the dialogue and the discussion about such issues from an early age. This means that the parent’s role is equally important.

‘’Talking to children is vital and education has a major part to play here, and we need to ensure all young people are given a platform to discuss the pressures they face online and have the skills to spot and understand the gap between perception and reality. We are releasing a new extended PSHE toolkit later this month to address the issue of online pornography along with related topics of body image and healthy relationships,’’ mentioned Childnet Chief Executive Will Gardner.

UK data watchdog set restrictions on social media and their use of people who are under 18 years old in order to prevent minors.

Specifically, the UK wants to make social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat more responsible and safe for the under 18s, limiting the inappropriate content. The data watchdog has published a 16 rule code of practice for all online services who process the personal data of underage. According to the code, it is suggested to ban ‘’likes’’, location services and ad targeting, which constitute a serious reason for minors to spend more time on social media and become more addicted. It is also indicated to create more accurate and effective age verification systems which could lead to more safe use of the accounts on social media.

The code of practice has not yet been implemented as it must first be enforced for the Parliament this year. The ICO, though, believes that it will be in effect by 2020 and mentions that those who do not adhere to the code, will be fined up to 20 million euros according to the General Data Protection Regulation. ‘’The internet and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives’’ said the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham and supplemented: ‘’ we shouldn’t have to prevent our children from being able to use it, but we must demand that they are protected when they do. This code does that.’’

Moreover, the Internet Association UK claimed that is also important to create regulation about the age verification, which can really be implemented and taken into consideration. ‘’Any new guidelines must be technically possible to implement in practice, and not stifle innovation and opportunities for smaller platforms,” said its executive director Daniel Dyball.

Democratic U.S. senators made a survey about the famous vaping company Juul in San Francisco in order to limit the growing sale of vaping products to minors.

The lawmakers sent a letter to the company to answer some of their questions about their youth marketing tactics and the reasons of cooperation with Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris. It is important to mention that 70 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market belongs to Juul, which is one of the largest companies in this field, selling nicotine pods with different flavors.

In November, under pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Juul delayed the sale of its flavored pods in order to remove young people from vaping but continued selling them online. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posed some important questions to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and specifically to the chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone, who aims to combat the youth vaping. Therefore, the chairman decided to introduce a new law about the restriction of the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and in general of such products.

‘’While Juul has promised to address youth vaping through its modest voluntary efforts, by accepting $12.8 billion from Altria — a tobacco giant with such a disturbing record of deceptive marketing to hook children onto cigarettes — Juul has lost what little remaining credibility the company had when it claimed to care about the public health,” the Senate letter said and continued that although investors are satisfied with the constant use of cigarettes by young people as their profits are increased, the senators never stop fighting against the abolishment of such products to minors.

‘’We welcome the opportunity to share information regarding Juul Labs’ commitment to curbing underage use of our products while fulfilling our mission to eliminate combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in our country,” Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement and supplemented that it is their duty to combat the use of youth vaping products. According to the Senate letter, it is asked a full account of the advertising buys so as to be confirmed that the ads are not seen by people under 21 and it is also requested the presentation of sales figures. Juul is obliged to respond to the previous questions until April 25.

After a survey conducted by Northland police and health officials, it was found that 3 of 31 stores, sold alcohol to minors.

Specifically, Northland District Health Board and Police staff conducted last week two Controlled Purchase Operations (CPOs) at licensed premises in Northland, remaining though, disappointed with the result in one of the districts. The goal of the two operations was to check the stores in the area and how employees treat minors. Therefore, based on the above plan, volunteers, younger than 18 years old, visited the stores in the Far North and Whangarei in order to buy alcoholic products.

According to the results, the storekeepers in Whangarei, did not allow any sale of alcohol to young people as opposed to the Far North, where three sales were made at the 15 outlets. Alcohol Harm Prevention Officer, Mid/Far North Police Senior Constable Rasau Kalivati, the results were disappointing as all purchases should have been banned.

“I cannot stress strongly enough that holders of a liquor license should ask for identification if they are in doubt of the age of a customer or where the customer appears under 25 years of age.” Κalivati mentioned that the storekeeper must first verify the age of the client and only if he is over 18 years old, to allow the sale and he also said: ‘’ As a community, we need to have confidence that license holders will not sell alcohol to our youth.’’

In general, the police attended all the premises that sell alcoholic products to the volunteer. In the area Whangarei, all the licensed premises applied effective age verification systems which means that police was fully satisfied. Thus, Controlled Purchase Operations (CPOs) are conducted to assess whether stores follow or violate the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and prevent minors from such products.

The new gambling regulator started functioning and is to be implemented by 2020 and specifically in 18 months, in Ireland, as it would need legislative approvals.

Betting companies receive their license from the Revenue Commissioners as there is no other body, undertaking the consumer protection measures. According to a study, it was mentioned that the Irish regulator, will be similar to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which regulates the UK National Lottery in Great Britain.

David Stanton, the Minister of State talked about the regulator, supporting that gambling must be a safe and fair, entertaining vehicle for all the users. The Inter-Departmental Working (IDW) Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling released a series of Cabinet-approved recommendations for the new regulator recently. Their purpose is to change all the regulations that have been applied since 1956, under the Gaming and Lotteries Act and the recent ones voted in 2013. Τhe reason is that none of these regulations are adapted to the current era and to recent changes in gambling technology.

According to the new rules, signing up to such games will be allowed only to those over the age of 18, which also means that gambling offers and advertisements will not be directed at them. The new regulator will oversee online gambling, advertisements, and sponsorships and will also enforce compliance and conduct on-site inspections.

David Stanton, expressed his concerns about online gaming in Ireland as gambling has risen sharply on the Irish market with 2/3rd of the population being users in the last 12 months. Thus, the Gaming and Lotteries Bill 2019 has been approved to tighten up the age verification system and also create new rules for the application of licenses and permits.

 

The UK parliamentary committee interrogated the two top Snap executives as they considered that the age verification system of the application was not effective.

Snap’s senior director of international public policy, Stephen Collins, and EMEA director of creative strategy, Will Scougal were called by lawmakers after a particular incident that happened about Snapchat. Specifically, this happened when the family of a murdered British teenager, received messages through Snapchat, whose sender seemed to be his killer.

Labour MP Ian Lucas, pointed some weaknesses in the age verification system, trying to sign up himself to the application and putting his year of birth as 2008. The system at the beginning did not allow him to sign up, but by setting his real age, he was given access. Therefore, Ian Lucas concluded that users who are under 13 years old can easily find many ways to violate and delude the system. “Your age verification system does not work for a popular way of signing up to Snapchat. Do you agree?” Lucas asked. Collins replied: “On the initial sign-up, certainly we agree.”

In addition to this, Collins also mentioned that if underage users try to sign up via a web browser, systems might catch them out by cookies. Although there is no analytical number of users, the overall percentages indicate that most choose to sign up via the application and after a survey, which conducted, it founded that Snap has approximately 186 million daily active users.

Τhe application also looks, during the registration, for ‘’inference signals’’ to validate the real age of users, which are though not precisely defined and explained. Moreover, another important question concerns the number of users who have been removed from the application due to their young age, in which Scougal replied: ‘’I’m afraid we don’t have the number’’.

 

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) decided to pass the new law, to make the gambling space safer and fairer, which is to be implemented on May 7, 2019.

The new legislation provides the interception of criminal activity, which will be achieved by gathering more information and personal data for users before joining at online gambling platforms. This is means that customers will be more protected as their identity will be verified before playing at online casinos or new bingo sites in the UK. According to a survey that conducted by UK Gambling Commission, it is founded that the 15% of users complained about the withholding of their winnings by online gambling operators, which is another reason for their protection.

After the implementation of the new rules about age verification, operators will be forced to check user’s age before they gamble online. Thus, young people will be safer and less exposed to the dangers of gambling and the Internet in general. In addition to this, the new legislation of UKGC does not define a specific process of age verification as each operator is required to apply an age validation procedure.

It is also important to mention that those who not comply with the new rules, will be penalized with an economic fine. Therefore, the penalty is a good reason to prevent the operators from violating the new legislation. Moreover, a lot of players will be deterred from opening new accounts at new online gambling sites in order to avoid having to go through a potentially long process to deposit money in an online gambling account. However, the most important is that new rules will help customers and specifically young people to have safer access to gambling sites.

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