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Friday, December 05, 2014

Pornography, banned websites and useful technology

If that headline does not attract readers then nothing will.

This blogpost is of course centred around the UK Government's clampdown on certain on-line pornographic acts if they are delivered to computer's from servers based here. However, as Myles Jackman argues here, it may be possible to expand this ban off-shore.

He quotes Peter Johnson, the Director of The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), who he says has explicitly stated that he believes pornographic websites with editorial control outside the UK may be in breach of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 if their content is downloaded in this country:

His basis for this proposition seems to be contained within the Crown Prosecution Service’s recently updated guidelines, which state that: “There are very difficult jurisdictional issues about whether material hosted overseas is within reach of the English criminal law… [However] if a web site is hosted abroad and is downloaded in the UK [...] there is publication both when images are uploaded and when they are downloaded.”

If this logic is followed, all foreign pornographic websites selling content within the UK would need to register with ATVOD. Apparently Johnson agrees with this rationale. According to the journalist Thomas Newton, he has argued that blocking credit card payments from the UK could put the free streaming sites operating outside of the UK out of business

“Our view is that cutting off the funds to premium services, which use the free sites as a marketing platform would disrupt and undermine the free and unrestricted provision of hardcore porn. Without the underlying payments, the free sites would wither on the vine”.

Put simply, what he is proposing are financial sanctions. It looks like an unelected quango is gearing up to impose foreign financial sanctions, by utilising unelected bankers to decline payments to foreign jurisdictions, based on a selective interpretation of the unelected CPS’ Guidelines on the OPA, drafted in collaboration with unelected film censors at the BBFC.

I am not aware that this is being proposed by the Government, but now it has been suggested....

Elsewhere in the Independent they very usefully list other things that have been banned in the UK. This apparently includes open debate, where protests effectively close down discussions; greater restrictions on free speech in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK due to the way that the Defamation Act 2013 was framed; the constabulary policing the content of tweets; atheism; and 93 websites.

Their point appears to be that people are far too sensitive, and that rather than arguing their point of view they resort to the kneejerk action of banning controversial viewpoints.

For those despairing that new technology is a malign influence on modern life though the Independent publishes its list of the 100 pieces of technology that made the world a better place in 2014. My favourite is the Casserole Club, which enables you to share home-cooked food with others in the community.
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