Risks of licensing porn on the Internet: “One might ask whether the State should know who is watching pornography”

An application to prevent minors from accessing online pornography, the Beta Digital Wallet, will soon be in force. Although it is a good initiative, the reality is that its effectiveness is still lacking. in question considering that it only blocks Spanish sites and most of the content is foreign. Added to this is the fact that if we use any VPN technology, the browser can be “told” that we are in any other part of the world, which would cause the Beta Digital Wallet to stop working.

The application, whose purpose is to allow Internet users to obtain anonymous digital credentials if they want to access content “inappropriate for minors”, is a very complicated task, because it requires much more than good will. On the one hand, because the existence of a tool that allows you to filter who accesses a particular content can seriously jeopardize the privacy of citizens. On the other hand, the efficiency of this application is quite dubious, since in four clicks you can avoid any restriction if you use any free VPN on the market.

But the real problem is that the vast majority of pornography on the Internet comes from servers spread across the world. The app cannot block them, so, de facto, “It becomes a technological solution that puts a door in the field”highlights Hervé Lambert Global Consumer Operations Manager of Panda Security.

In the words of the ministerfor the Digital Transformation and the Public Service of Spain, José Luis Escrivá “the The consequences of accessing adult content are very serious and involve us all.”. Therefore, “a major national agreement is needed to protect the health, well-being and safety of children and adolescents”. Regarding the owners of pornographic websites, Escrivá said that “he expects their maximum collaboration, since it is a problem that concerns us all”.

The initiative to create this application comes from order of the European Union, which has established that from 2027 All digital content platforms will have to verify the age of majority of their users. Just a month after this, Spain created an inter-ministerial working group in order to “make a solution available to users in record time” and have a solution operational by the end of summer. This suggests that “With so little time, it is difficult for all the actors involved in privacy “The Internet users in Spain can contribute their knowledge to the creation of a solution that is as necessary as it is potentially hackable,” adds Lambert. “Taking into account that the commission was created in March and that the application will be in mass use in August or September… It makes us think that 9 months is not a reasonable time to issue a definitive solution that affects something as sensitive as the data of people who consume pornography in a country.”

The operation of the application is quite simple. The user only needs to Register your age in the Digital Wallet using an official document, such as the electronic DNI. You can then generate an anonymous credential that will allow you to access pornography websites. When you try to access them, the site will check your age through this verification system by scanning a QR code. If you have the access credential, you will be able to access the content. Otherwise, entry will be blocked.

These access credentials will not reveal personal data of the user, They will only confirm whether you are an adult or a minor.. To prevent your browsing from being traced through your consumption habits, 30 credentials can be generated every 30 days, with a validity of one month. Each credential can be used a maximum of three times on a pornographic website before requesting a new authentication. The validity periods and the number of accessories allowed, however, could be adjusted as necessary, according to Minister Escrivá.

But to verify the age of users, the app may require personal information such as full name, date of birth, address or ID number. For Lambert, it is essential to ensure that This information is stored and processed securely to prevent data leaks or theft.In this regard, systems must be subjected to regular penetration tests and security audits in order to identify and correct potential vulnerabilities that will continue to arise.

Therefore, the management of access to the data collected by the application must be extremely strict. The fact that there are authorized personnel handling sensitive data is already a risk in itself. To this we must add the risk that information collected by the application may end up being leaked“It is legitimate to ask whether we can trust and leave the supervision, control and protection of our personal data and that of our children in the hands of the State,” confirms Lambert.

For this reason, and beyond the technological debate, it is worth asking: If the State should know if people are interested in viewing pornography. Although it is clear that the government has no intention of knowing this, it is an issue that must be addressed in a very thorough manner. Because it could open the door to classifying citizens according to their Internet activity. It is clear that there is no intention of this in any current European democracy. But if someone with bad intentions were to get hold of this information, it would make reality far surpass the Big Brother who controlled society in the novel. 1984 by George Orwell.

Like any other application, the age verification system can have vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit in thousands of different ways. If a large number of people use the Digital Wallet Beta, it can lead to a centralized database containing sensitive information about all those peopleTherefore, centralizing this data in a single location would not only increase the risk of cyberattacks. It would also amplify the consequences of a potential security breach.

Finally, there is a possibility that create a black market for certificates, where minors can buy access credentialsIn this scenario, minors could steal credentials from relatives, such as grandparents or parents, and then sell them to peers. But even more worrying would be sexual predators cashing in on this black market. Minors could be exploited or tricked. And stolen credentials could be traced back to the original owners, causing legal and personal problems for family members or friends.

In short, “although it is necessary to take measures of this type, this application will not eradicate the problem of consumption of pornography among minors,” concludes Lambert. “If this type of actions are not accompanied by long-term education plans“We will simply be putting patches on a wound that requires a very in-depth analysis and treatment. Proof of this is that in Spain, the age of sexual abusers is increasingly younger. Without a strategy in which all of civil society can collaborate, there will be no real solution to this scourge.”