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UK porn curbs ‘won’t work’

Internet freedom campaigners are questioning the point of the UK Government’s new law.

xxxporn

 

The Conservative-led coalition government is to make computer and smartphone manufacturers and Internet service providers create an ‘opted out’ default setting. This means that anyone needing access to adult material such as pornography will be forced to ‘opt in’ – a reversal of the current system. The Prime Minister’s announcement followed pressure from MPs demanding that child porn and violent depictions of rape should be outlawed after two convicted child killers – Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger -told their murder trials that they had viewed videos and cartoons of children being sexually abused. Culture Secretary Maria Miller has held a summit meeting with Google and other Internet giants, urging them to act on pornography.

In an interview at Westminster,the Shadow Cyber Security Minister Chi Owunrah told FI editor Peter Warren that the industry needs to ‘grow up’ and take responsibility for pornography. Ms Owunrah, herself a scientist and former telecommunications executive, wants to see Internet enterprise companies behaving better. Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHJlfp2E9vs&feature=youtu.be

But whilst there is consensus across the political divide, outside the Westminster bubble the proposed new law is greeted with outrage and contempt. Index on Censoship’s Padraig Reidy told say this is a ‘King Canute moment’ for the British Prime Minister. Kanute was a twelfth-century English king who sat on his throne on the seashore and commanded the tide not to rise and wet him. But when Kanute’s command failed to stop the waves he made this a lesson that ‘the power of kings is vain and trivial’ and that only God can truly make eternal laws.

Turn the tide

Reidy believes that the new law is just as unworkable as trying to turn the tide. Interviewed on the PassWord with Peter Warren radio show on www.resonancefm.com, Reidy insisted that any attempt to censor the Internet would threaten human rights and freedoms. He pointed out that the web users most likley to be able to technically get around the default settings are the very teenagers the law is apparently trying to protect, whereas parents are typically less skilled than the ‘digital native’ generations. Index on Censorship believes Cameron is technically out of his depth:

“There is far too much faith in the algorithm, and far too little thinking about the core issue: tracking down and prosecuting the creators of abuse images. The one solid proposal on this front is the creation of a central secure database of illegal images from which police can work, though the prime minister’s suggestion that it will “enable the industry to use the digital hash tags from the database” does not fill one with confidence that he is entirely across this issue.”

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2013/07/camerons-canute-moment/

Tech company Blippar is already trying to cash in on the new mood of puritanism, offering a smartphone app that will cover- up pictures of scnatily-clad models in lads’ mags and ‘top shelf’ soft porn magazines for the shopper who does not want to look at naked nipples or bare bottoms, = owhor perhaps wants to keep those pictures hidden from small children. http://www.digitalnewsroom.co.uk/blippar/blippar-offers-the-breast-of-both-worlds-in-the-lads-mag-debate/ Blippar is tongue-in-cheek but some supermarket chains are taking seriously the rising tide of intolerance for nudity and raunchy images in magzines and newspapers. The Co-operative now insists on ‘modesty bags’ to shield customers from the explicit images on the cover of some lad’s mags, and will no longer stock Nuts magazine since its owner refuses to bag it. Tesco supermarkets in 20 major cities across the UK have seen demonstrations by anti-sexism groups Feminista and Object, deamding that Tesco should ‘Lose the Lads’ mags’.

Bare breasts

Meanwhile the bare-breasted models displayed on Page 3 of traditional tablod newspapers The Sun, The Star and The Sport are the target of a campaign and e-petition on www.change-org . In twelve months to August 2013 it has gathered more than 100,000 signatures and the official backing of all the main teaching unions, the Girlguiding movement and women’s campaigns including Rape Crisis.No more page 3 founder Lucy Anne Holmes claims the fact that the Irish Times has ceased to print pictures of bare breast is a mark of success.

FI editor Peter Warren comments: