NEWS RELEASE – 26/04/2018

New Certification Scheme to Protect Children from Pornography


A new Certification Scheme has been launched today [26/04/2018] aimed at ensuring online pornography services prevent access for children to their websites.


The independent, impartial, third-party certification of Age Check service providers will be validating conformity against a new Publicly Available Specification produced by the British Standards Institute. For the first time, PAS 1296:2018 provides a robust auditable code of practice for the plethora of age check services that are available in the market place. The aim of the new Age Check Certification Scheme is to provide consumers, businesses and regulators with confidence that claims of conformity with PAS 1296:2018 are independently validated.


As the existing appointed auditors for the UK’s Home Office-endorsed Proof-of-Age Standards Scheme, the team behind the new Age Check Certification Scheme are uniquely placed to offer the assurance needed. Led by a team of fully qualified trading standards and audit professionals, providers of age check or age verification services online can be confident of high calibre certification services which have been established in accordance with ISO 17065:2012 – the international standard for certification schemes.


Anne-Marie Canham, Managing Director said, “we have now been providing independent validation of age checking systems in retail for 7 years and are delighted to be extending our scope to cover the new PAS 1296:2018. Our robust, impartial certification of age check service providers will provide complete confidence and peace of mind that systems are appropriately verifying user ages to enable access to adult only material.”


Later this year, the government will be bringing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 into force meaning that providers of adult pornographic content will need to secure that persons under 18 cannot usually access it. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has been designated as the enforcement agency and is looking to industry to provide appropriate tools and assurance to make sure that age verification systems work well to protect children from harm.


For information visit




Notes for Editors


  1. The Age Check Certification Scheme is open to any providers of age check services, such as online age verification tools or app-based ID providers. To achieve certification, the providers must demonstrate compliance with the provisions of PAS 1296:2018 Code of Practice for Online Age Verification.


  1. The Scheme is provided by social enterprise Under Age Sales Ltd – specialists in helping retailers to comply with legislation around age restricted goods and services. The firm are the existing appointed auditors for the UK’s Proof-of-Age Standards Scheme (PASS), approved by the Home Office, Trading Standards, Police and Security Industry Authority. Under Age Sales Ltd does not provide age verification services or proof-of-age schemes; but does provide training, point-of-sale, compliance and audit services for business, enforcers and service providers.


  1. The certification services provided by Under Age Sales Ltd are independent, impartial, consistent and delivered by competent trained auditors. All the team of auditors are fully qualified trading standards professionals bound by the code of professional practice of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.


  1. The Age Check Certification Scheme is established in accordance with the provisions of ISO 17065:2012 – the international standard for certification schemes. However, as a new area of accreditation, PAS 1296:2018 is not presently eligible for UKAS accreditation of certification bodies, but if it does become eligible, we will have developed the scheme in accordance with the appropriate standards.


  1. Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 provides greater protection for children from pornographic websites. The provisions are due to come into force by December 2018, after which it will be unlawful for internet service providers, pornographic websites or other ancillary services to make pornographic content available in a way children could usually access it. The designated enforcer, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is seeking active age verification on websites (not just self-declared tick boxes) to secure compliance, meaning providers will need a verified and reputable age verification service.


  1. The Licence Conditions and Social Responsibility Codes of Practice recently strengthened and updated by the Gambling Commission also requires active age verification for access to online gambling sites. These services have developed over the years, but until now there was no auditable recognised standard that the providers could be certified against.


  1. PAS 1296:2018 is a new publicly available specification produced by the British Standards Institute and the Digital Policy Alliance and available from BSI.


  1. For more information, please contact:


Tony Allen, Specialist Advisor & Chartered Trading Standards Practitioner – 0345 257 0018