No spanking, no squirting, and no scolding: British pornographers are already banned from including a stringent list of sex acts in their adult entertainment, yet the government is poised to insert itself into their business even more deeply. Currently under review in Parliament is a law that would compel British porn sites to solicit age-verification data from people wanting to view their content. Issuing these viewers a unique porn identification number, the government would effectively commission a database of the nation’s porn consumption habits. What could go wrong?!

Called the Digital Economy Bill, the proposal comes curiously bundled with wholly unrelated legislation that runs from establishing a minimum download speed for internet consumers, increasing penalties for prank calls and telemarketers, and improved data-sharing across government departments.

But let’s not forget about that porn. With motivations landing somewhere between puritanism and authoritarianism, the Digital Economy Bill’s porn viewer age-verification clauses purport to protect children from objectionable content on the internet. It seems like a noble pursuit, yet it found outspoken opponents immediately, not only from within the adult entertainment industry, but among those who make it a full-time pursuit to protect civil liberties.

Jim Killock is the executive director of Open Rights Group, a UK-based organization aimed at preserving digital rights. “This is an attempt at finding a technological solution to a social problem,” he tells Inverse. “While this law may prevent young children from accidentally viewing porn, there are many ways that tech savvy teenagers could get around it. These methods might include technical means like VPNs or proxy sites, but it might also just mean accessing porn through mainstream social media sites.”

“[The government's] belief that age verification will ‘protect’ children seems disconnected from reality,” says internet security evangelist Alec Muffett. “Any conversation with a teenager regarding ‘how to bypass school network filters’ will illustrate the issue.” Simply, those who want to view porn will find a way to do so, age-verification be damned.

The United Kingdom has had an antagonistic relationship with pornography for decades. The Obscene Publications Act made it illegal to sell hardcore porn in 1959. Famed British pornographer Ben Dover was jailed in 1980 when his production company was busted up by law enforcement. A 2014 law dictated what the country’s law-abiding porn producers could and could not include in their filmed entertainment. If absolute freedom of speech and expression is the gold standard, then the UK has a tarnished record and this new legislation does little to alleviate it.

How much say should a government have in how a private business spends its money? If this becomes formal legislation, law-abiding adult websites will have to implement age verification and fundamentally alter how people join their sites, so consultants and third-party tech companies “will line up to take the money which the government will require them to spend,” Muffett says.

The stupendous data collection that goes into this proposed system ought to raise numerous security and privacy concerns, and these matters are entirely unaddressed in the draft of the bill: “It needs strong privacy regulation to avoid potential disasters,” Killock says. “Data protection laws allow you to agree to this kind of profiling and people may not understand it from terms and conditions.”

Mishandling of such information could be damaging in the worst way. A savvy hacker may connect enough dots within the database in order to make someone’s porn-viewing habits personally identifiable. Consider the suicides in the wake of the Ashley Madison database hack, and it’s a reasonable position that information of people’s tastes in porn being made public could have repercussions beyond the political.

Imagine learning your elected representative’s favorite porn tropes (just as the British public did when this former pornography advisor to the prime minister was found guilty of downloading pictures of young girls). The bill’s lack of protective consideration for those viewing porn legally sends the message that this law isn’t really about protecting kids. “Instead [it appears] to be attempting to limit access to porn,” says Muffett.

It’s a perspective shared by Tommie MacDonald, a British business partner in the Hungary-based porn site Harriet Sugarcookie. MacDonald points to the rampant sex and violence in other media that isn’t being held to a similar standard. “In a video game, I can smash people’s heads in. Literary erotica is full of underage sex acts. Where do we draw the line?” he says. “Furthermore, the UK isn’t good at databases.”

In 2002, the National Health Service launched an initiative to make a single compendium of its citizens’ health records. Whether you went to the dentist or the doctor, the vision was that medical professionals would have instant access to your complete information. Despite a budget of £11 billion and years of work, they just gave up in 2011.

It’s inelegant to use technology to solve a social problem. This frontier of thought is well-tread by a security researcher named Marcus Ranum. Coining “Ranum’s Law,” he suggests one ought to thoroughly consider whether technology is suitable for one’s goals, and whether or not one should redraw those goals. The British government is carrying out its noble mission by imposing technological requirements on the entirety of the internet — literally, the rest of the world. Killock’s Open Rights Group instead calls for compulsory sex education in schools that includes sections on pornography, relationships, and online abuse. “Children also need to be educated about how to stay safe online and deal with content that they might find disturbing or frightening,” he says.

The path to formal legislation for this most contentious bill looks like this: it will be debated and voted on by members of Parliament in the House of Commons, then it goes to the House of Lords to be voted into proper law. It can be amended throughout this process. Let’s hope it is. If it is to become a legally binding regulation, MacDonald says that his site, Harriet Sugarcookie, will be able to easily comply from day one.

“We’ll probably just block all UK traffic,” he says.

Dylan Love has been writing for the Internet in one form or another for something crazy like 10 years. Let's not worry too much about the exact number.