David Cameron Policing Porn

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David Cameron is policing porn in a big way. He announced on Monday that every household in Britain connected to the internet will have to declare if they want to maintain access to online pornography.

The prime minister’s intent is that the government should play a role in cracking down on the “corroding” influence of pornography on children and childhood. Cameron stated that all internet users will be contacted by service providers and given an “unavoidable choice” on if they will use filters.

When would the changes be introduced?

By the end of next year, these changes will be introduced throughout Britain. Customers who set up a new broadband account or who switch providers would have to actively disable filters by the end of this year to comply.

Cameron announced these moves in a speech to the NSPCC. He suggested a series of measures designed to reduce access to porn with a particular focus on images of child sexual abuse.

What types of porn would be outlawed or limited?

The possession of “extreme pornography,” which includes scenes of simulated rape, is to be outlawed.

Also, the  Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) will create a list of “abhorent” internet search terms that will be used to identify and prevent paedophiles searching for pornography depicting children involved in sexual acts.

Police forces will work together to create a single secure  database of illegal images of children to help “close the net on paedophiles.”

Apart from these moves, Twitter plans to introduce a tagging system that will prevent these types of pornography from being posted on its service. Twitter plans to introduce the system this year, if possible. It uses a Microsoft-developed industry standard called PhotoDNA.

The speech is David Cameron’s answer to critics who claim that he talks tough but fails to take action. By limiting access to extreme types of pornography, the prime minister seeks to prove that he is determined to take action by cracking down on online pornography.

Cameron will also announce that possession of “extreme pornography”, which includes scenes of simulated rape, will be outlawed by the government. It is illegal to publish such pornography and illegal to possess it in Scotland but not in England and Wales.

What is David Cameron’s definition of “extreme pornography?”

According to the prime minister, “extreme pornography” depicts acts of violence against women:

There are certain types of pornography that can only be described as ‘extreme’ … that is violent, and that depicts simulated rape. These images normalise sexual violence against women – and they are quite simply poisonous to the young people who see them.”

The Rape Crisis group welcomed this announcement by the prime minister. They also want the government to legislate to ensure that videos streamed online are subject to the same rules as those sold in shops.

According to Fiona Elvines, of Rape Crisis South London:

We are heartened by the government’s announcement that it will close the loophole in existing extreme pornography legislation.

“The government today has made a significant step forward in preventing rapists using rape pornography to legitimize and strategize their crimes and, more broadly, in challenging the eroticization of violence against women and girls.”

The prime minister will warn the world’s largest internet providers that they face a duty to block “sick” people searching for illegal sites online:

I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest. You have a duty to act on this – and it is a moral duty. If there are technical obstacles to acting on [search engines], don’t just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them.

“You’re the people who have worked out how to map almost every inch of the Earth from space; who have developed algorithms that make sense of vast quantities of information. Set your greatest brains to work on this. You are not separate from our society, you are part of our society, and you must play a responsible role in it.”

The Devil is in the details

What is or isn’t pornography is a matter of debate and pinning down what would or wouldn’t be allowed under Cameron’s proposals will be difficult to do, according to the prime minister’s critics.

That’s just one of the many nagging details that will have to be worked out if the sweeping snit-pornography proposals are to work. Cameron has suggested that certain types of pornography would still be allowed, like the topless women in the newspaper, The Sun. Also, he appears to say that written pornography would still be allowed.

The prime minister stated on the BBC’s Jeremy Vine program that what would be included in the filters would evolve over time:

The companies themselves are going to design what is automatically blocked, but the assumption is they will start with blocking pornographic sites and also perhaps self-harming sites.

“It will depend on how the companies choose how to do it. It doesn’t mean, for instance, it will block access to a newspaper like The Sun, it wouldn’t block that – but it would block pornography.”

Cameron said he did not “believe” written pornography, such as erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, would be blocked under the plans. But he added: “It will depend on how the filters work.”

Child pornography and “extreme pornography” that depicts violent acts against women or men should have strict laws banning them. However, there is a danger that the details involved in defining what should or shouldn’t be filtered out and whether or not the filters violate freedom of speech and expression will tie Cameron’s proposals up in courts for a long, long time to come.

Written by: Douglas Cobb

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