The Video Sharing Platform (VSP) regime requires providers to take measures to protect people using their sites and apps from harmful videos. These include requirements to implement age assurance (age-gating) measures where appropriate. Similar obligations have also been proposed for platforms under the Online Safety Bill. As such, even if you’re not a VSP operating in the adult industry, Ofcom’s recent update on its enforcement programme (regarding age assurance measures in the adult VSP sector which it began in January 2023) sheds some useful light on these requirements. 

General learnings

In general, Ofcom says that it is engaging with adult platforms to understand age assurance measures in use across the adult VSP sector.  This has helped it to understand what challenges platforms face when considering implementing any age assurance measures and the respective merits of different methods available to them. Ofcom will use these learnings both under the VSP regime and then under the Online Safety Regime when the new legislation comes into force.

Notified smaller adult VSP providers

In respect of some of the notified smaller adult VSP providers Ofcom has sought to understand the measures they have in place to protect underage users from adult content and identify required improvements. It says that several have already taken steps to improve their access controls for underage users.  However, it has identified a need for further improvements by some providers.  In these cases it sets a deadline for compliance and if they fail to meet that deadline, Ofcom may consider further enforcement action.

Non-notified adult platforms

Ofcom has also identified a number of non-notified adult platforms that may fall in-scope of the UK VSP regime and appear not to have appropriate age assurance measures in place. It opened an investigation into Secure Live Media Ltd (believed to be the provider of adult VSP CamSoda) on 16 May 2023 to determine whether they have failed to notify Ofcom and take appropriate measures to protect under-18s from videos containing pornographic content on their site.  It has also engaged with other websites to determine if they should comply with the UK VSP regime. It says that one platform chose to close its service down following contact by Ofcom.

Next steps

Ofcom intends to continue the current programme of monitoring and enforcement for a further three months. This will include:

  • ongoing engagement with notified adult platforms;
  • its enforcement investigation into Secure Live Media Ltd;
  • further engagement with other non-notified adult platforms, with possible enforcement action for non-compliance; and
  • driving improvements ahead of the Online Safety regime within the adult sector.

It will then publish a further update.

For further information above VSPs in general, see our earlier article here.