Thanks for raising this ever looming issue. Let me break down the Digital Economy bill which may prove helpful to those not yet in the know....
Age verification has been the hot topic now for the last 3 years. It started with a branch of Offcom called ATVOD who approached this with bullying tactics, picking on only a handful of sites. They were disbanded a while back but as you quite rightly say the DE bill comes into full effect mid April.
The DE Bill is huge and covers a variety of issues including broadband, telecommunications etc. The part that effects us is the Age Verification for pornographic websites.
The bill states that any website, where it's main activity is to provide adult content cannot show any sort of nudity before a visitor is age verified. This goes for both free sites and paid sites. The problem with this is a website can get thousands of visitors a day and age verification isn't free.
Their are several companies offering an AV solution. This can be as simple as verifying by mobile in which the network operator confirms the age based on a paid contract. If that doesn't work for the client the next step is taking more information and actually running an equifax report.
We have decided to tie in several options to the Webstream platform so a client can actually chose how he is verified. We will only be verifying new clients who try to use a debit card to make a purchase (credit cards are for over 18's). We will not be verifying every visitor to a website. At the moment, Webstream will not be passing this charge onto the Studios or Performers but this may change depending on the severity.
We will also have an option in accounts to turn age verification on or off so it's completely up to the studio whether their clients are AV'd.
After listening to the BBFC in parliament they want to tackle the top 50 traffic generating sites first. This will be the likes of tube sites and other international global brands. This will surely take some time and based on the fact their are millions of paysites, studios etc it's not going to be an overnight thing.
Rest assured Webstream will do everything in it's power to keep within the confine of the law