Following the passing of the Investigatory Powers Bill, the British government is on a roll, and its latest privacy-busting measure, the innocuous-sounding Digital Economy Bill, was last night waved through by MPs without a vote.

The bill takes the U.K. back to the prudish days of the 1960s when a lawyer was able to ask a court, in all seriousness, whether Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the kind of book ‘you would wish your wife or servants to read’.

This time round, it’s mostly about the children, with the provision that pornographic material should be blocked unless the site concerned has effective age verification.

However, wives, servants and the rest of us are also, for the first time, to be protected from ‘prohibited content’ online, under the same rules as are currently used to censor films.

It will be up to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to assess decide whether websites have strong enough age verification in place, and whether the sexual acts involved, whether consensual or not, fit the criteria already in place for DVD releases.

Of course – and as we’ve come to expect from the British government – it’s extremely unclear as to how all this is to be achieved. Current age checks for porn websites amount to no more than ‘Are you sure you’re old enough?’.

There’s been talk of demanding personal information that can prove an individual’s age, such as driving licence data or credit card information – an obvious temptation to scammers and blackmailers.

The Houses of Parliament in London. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg