Britain has some ludicrous and dated prohibitions on aspects of porn that are commonplace in international porn sites. For example the government requires that
the BBFC cut fisting, squirting, gagging on blow jobs, dialogue references to incest or underage sex.
It would be ludicrous to expect all of the worlds websites to remove such commonplace scene from all its films and videos. The originally proposed porn censorship law would require the BBFC to identify sites with this commonplace material, and ISPs would
have then been forced to block these sites. Of course this would have meant that more or less all websites would have had to be banned.
Someone has obviously pointed this out to the government, perhaps the Lords had spotted this in their scrutiny.
The Daily Mail is now reporting that this censorship power will be dropped form the Digital Economy Bill. The age verification requirement will stand but foreign websites complying with age verification will not then be blocked for material transgressing
some of the stupid UK prohibitions.
A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has acknowledged that the proposals were imperfect , but said the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which covers sex shops, was too outdated to be used to regulate the internet.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport actually went further and said extreme material, including violent pornography and cartoons depicting child sex abuse, will be allowed to stay online as long as distributors put in place checks to ensure it
cannot be viewed by children. (But note that downloading films including what is defined as extreme pornography and cartoon child porn would still be illegal). There will be no change to the capability of the IWF to block child porn (and occasionally,
illegal adult porn).
Of course pro-censorship campaigners are not impressed by the lost opportunity for total porn censorship. Helen Lewington, of the morality campaign group Mediawatch-UK, claimed that the decision to allow extreme sites to operate behind the age
verification barrier risked giving them a veneer of respectability . She called on peers to reject the amendments this evening. She added:
We are deeply concerned by the Government's apparent change of direction. These proposals will permit some forms of violent pornography to be viewed behind age verification checks.
This will unhelpfully allow what is illegal offline to be legally viewed online, and may in the long term lead to some regarding such material as acceptable.'
Pro censorship campaigner John Carr revealed that the government will now be reviewing the rules on what is currently prohibited from UK adult porn. He set out his pro-censorship stall by claiming that reducing censorship for adults would somehow
endanger children. He claimed:
In his speech on the Digital Economy Bill, last Monday night in the House of Lords, Lord Ashton referred to the Secretary of State's announcement in the context of there being a need for a wider discussion about the effects of pornography in society as a
whole, not solely in respect of children. I would hope there will be an opportunity to contribute to that aspect of the review. I accept it was never envisaged that the Digital Economy Bill was to be a trigger for a wider debate about what sorts of
pornography are more or less acceptable, whether being viewed by children or not. However, just because children cannot view certain types of material that have been put behind an age verification wall, it does not mean that its continued availability to
adults does not constitute a threat to children. Such material might encourage, promote or appear to legitimize or condone harmful behaviours which either directly or indirectly put children at risk.
Offsite Comment: Lib Dems lay into the governments censorship efforts
To add to the list of obnoxious new laws such as the new offence of driving while being a suspected illegal immigrant and giving the police
unfettered access to innocent people's web histories, the Tories have waded into the swamp of online pornography and they are completely out of their depth.
The Digital Economy Bill, another universal answer to everything they couldn't get through when we had one hand on the reins of power, professes to protect children from online pornography.
Nonetheless, if we are to prohibit access to online adult material unless there is an age-verification solution in place, the privacy of those who are being forced to part with their sensitive personal information in order to verify their age, must be
protected. We have already seen user databases for a couple of major porn sites, containing sensitive personal information, being hacked and the details traded on the dark web. When details of users of the Ashley Madison site were leaked, it reportedly
led to two suicides.
Utah legislators have voted for abstinence-only education. Ironically, last summer, Utah passed legislation calling porn a public
health crisis, because they feared it was serving as de facto sex education.
Until they make up their minds, xHamster has announced that it is rerouting all traffic from Utah to its YouTube sex ed series, The Box . xHamster explained:
Today, the Utah legislature voted against comprehensive sex ed in schools in favor of abstinence education. Ironically, over the past few years, politicians in the state have also waged a war on porn, worried that it provides inauthentic views of
We've come up with a solution that we will hopefully satisfy them on both fronts. Beginning immediately, we're rerouting all xHamster traffic from Utah to our comprehensive sex ed series, The Box. We've been working on The Box since last year, producing
videos based on questions submitted by porn viewers.
While we love porn, we don't think that it should be relied on for sex ed any more than Star Wars is a substitute for science class.
Utahns consume the most porn per capita of any state in the nation. Let's see if we can turn the thirstiest state in the nation into the most sexually aware.
On 1 January 2016, Video on Demand censor ATVOD was sacked and Ofcom became the sole regulator for on-demand programme services ( ODPS )
under Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act ).
In this document, we are consulting on a new regulatory fees regime under section 368NA of the Act, to apply from the 2017/18 financial year onwards. Our preferred proposal is to adopt a fees structure that shares the costs of regulating ODPS only
between the largest providers.
We have also provided an estimate of the 2017/18 fee that would be sufficient to meet, but not exceed, the likely cost of Ofcom carrying out the relevant functions in the financial year 2017/18.
Ofcom sets out what VoD companies had to pay under the year of ATVOD:
(a) ATVOD's estimated costs for the year were just over £487,000 and the fees collected were just over £488,000.
(b) The 40 largest ODPS providers each paid over £5,000 and accounted for over 93% of fees.
(c) ATVOD differentiated between those in the largest group, with the largest Super A providers paying £10,893 each for single outlet services and £14,135 for multiple outlet services (with a group cap available where there were multiple providers
in one corporate group). A Rate providers paid £5,010 for single outlet services and £6,502 for multiple outlet services.
(d) None of the remaining 77 providers (the long tail ) paid more than £815, and 40 of these paid £204 or less. These providers accounted, in total, for under 7% of fees.
By contrast, Ofcom's estimate of estimated costs is £114,000 and this will be raised from Video on Demand companies as follows:
Companies with total turnover greater than 50 million: £4146
Companies with total turnover 10 to 50 million: £2073
Companies with total turnover less than 10 million: no charge
Ofcom noted that a proportionally smaller charge for the small companies may not be cost effective to collect and may discourage companies from registering for censorship either by illegal avoidance or by moving offshore.
A consultation on this preferred option and several others is open until 29th March 2017.
An interesting article in Wired reports on a a recent Westminster eForum meeting when the British establishment got
together to discuss, porn, internet censorship and child protection.
A large portion of the article considers the issue that porn is not generally restricted just to 'porn websites'. It is widely available on more mainstream wesbites such as Google Images. Stephen Winyard, director and VP of ICM Registry and council
member of the digital policy alliance, argued that Twitter is in fact commercially benefiting from the proliferation of pornography on the network:
It's on Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, mobile apps - Skype is used hugely for adult content. But Twitter is the largest platform for promoting pornography in the world - and it takes money for it. They pay Twitter money to advertise adult content.
Another good good pint was that the Digital Censorship Bill going through parliament was targetting the prevention of children 'stumbling across' porn. Hence a bit of partial blockade of porn may somehow reduce this problem. However Adam Kinsley of Sky
pointed out that partial blockage may not be so effective in stopping kids actively looking for porn. He noted:
The Digital Economy Bill's exact objectives are a little uncertain, but we are trying to stop children stumbling on pornography -- but they are not 'stumbling', they are looking for it and Twitter is where they will [find] it. Whether what the government
is proposing will deal with that threat is unclear. Initially, it did not propose ISPs blocking content. When it comes to extremist sites, the Home Office asks social media platforms to take down content. The government does not ask us to block material
- it has never done that. So this is a big deal. It doesn't happen with the IWF; it doesn't happen with terrorist material, and it wasn't in the government's original proposal. Whether they got it right and how will we deal with these millions of sites,
We're not really achieving anything if only dealing with a few sites.
The Bill is incredibly complex, as it stands. David Austin, from the BBFC, pointed out that for it to implement the bill correctly, it needs to be effective, proportionate, respectful of privacy, accountable - and the
Tens of millions of adults that go online to see legal content must be able to continue to do so.
At the same time, he said:
There is no silver bullet, no one model, no one sector that can achieve all child protection goals.
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