Porn viewers in Russia must now sign into online sites by giving over personal information

The rule is supposed to make it easier for viewers – but could lead to precise and personalised tracking, too

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 11 July 2017 09:01
Comments
A woman looks at a laptop in a mall in central Moscow
A woman looks at a laptop in a mall in central Moscow

Russian visitors to Pornhub now have to sign in with their personal details and their passport.

The Russian government has gradually been looking to make it more difficult for people in the country to access pornographic websites. That has followed shutdowns and criticism of the website, which state regulators said was distributing materials that were harming the development of children.

The rules followed that complete shutdown of Pornhub, the world's biggest adult website, in September last year. That ban was lifted just months ago, when Pornhub committed to check the age of anyone who visits it.

That age check has now been replaced by an instruction to log in to social network VKontakte, which will provide a users age and date of birth. The site says that is to make it easier for people to log in – since they won't have to write out their age.

Pornhub's post on its official VKontakte page suggested that people who were bored of filling out their age could just sign in with their "favourite social network".

But the restriction also means that people could potentially be identified as they log into porn website, as Vice points out. Social network VKontakte requires every person to sign up with a phone number, and phone numbers are linked to people's passports in Russia, meaning that it could be easy to identify anyone who visits pornographic websites and to track what they watch once they do so.

Pornhub has said that it doesn't store any of the information from VKontakte, and that VKontakte wouldn't see that the request to log in was coming from Pornhub.

The government in tne UK has occasionally suggested that it could pursue similar rules, forcing all adult websites to ensure that their visitors are over 18 under threat of being shut down. But how exactly that identification process could work has proved a sticking point, with plans to issue personal ID numbers or use credit cards being rejected as invasive and dangerous.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in