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.

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That age check has now been replaced by an instruction to log in to social network VKontakte, which will provide a users age and date of birth.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.

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.

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