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British PM David Cameron Faces Backlash Over Plan To Censor Internet Pornography

CameronDavid Cameron's plan for automatic internet 'porn filters' in every British home has encountered significant setbacks as criticism from anti-censorship groups and concerns about the program's implementation have emerged.

Background of the proposal, courtesy of The Independent

Mr. Cameron laid out a multi-pronged approach to tackle the proliferation of both legal and illegal pornography on the internet, saying that the problem was "too big to ignore."

Under his proposals, by the end of next year all households will have to 'opt out' of automatic porn filters, which would come as standard with internet broadband and cover all devices in a house. Possession of the most extreme forms of adult pornography will become an offence, while online content will have the same restrictions as DVDs sold in sex shops.

While some, such as the Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips have applauded Cameron for acting decisively 'against a presumed liberal consensus and in defense of orderly family values,' others have expressed concerns that Cameron's plan amounts to a war on sex.

Peter Acworth, founder of the UK site kink.com, posted an open letter to Cameron criticizing his actions as "inherently short sighted, unhealthy, and indeed likely to have the opposite of the intended effect."

'You draw the conclusion that consumption of pornography by a handful of sexual offenders actually caused the offense. Let me clue you in. Consumption of pornography is widespread beyond your wildest imagination - the vast majority of it, healthily consumed. You are using a moral compass to make sweeping policy decisions without any real evidence or analysis of the consequences.

...

Further, if your assessment was correct, it would follow that countries such as Denmark, who prides herself on an absence of censorship of any kind, would have a sexual abuse problem. Far from it. Rape numbers in Norway are one quarter of those in the USA or UK.

Indeed for a country where politicians of all stripes joined together in the legalization of same-sex marriage this year, this new move seems an uncharacteristic limitation of civil liberties. More puzzling still is the question of what will be classified as illegal 'extreme forms of adult pornography,' a notion that Acworth touches on in his letter

Meanwhile, the logistical concerns of separating pornographic material from educational or scientific information on sex has not been lost on Cameron's mind. Admitting that there would be 'problems down the line' with his proposed system, Cameron seemed unclear of exactly which legal sites or content would be banned by the new filters. From The Independent:

Speaking on the BBC's Jeremy Vine programme, Mr. Cameron said 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," he said.

"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."

Mr. 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.'

He also admitted it could lead to some interesting conversations in families. Asked if the 'opt in' system meant a husband would have to 'fess up' to his partner if he wanted to look at porn, he finally said: 'Yes, it does."

Anti-censorship groups have pounced on Cameron's uncertainty, warning that sites about sexual health and sexuality could inadvertently get caught up in the ban.

Padraig Reidy, of the Index on Censorship, said people should not have to opt out of the filters. "If we have, as the Prime Minister is suggesting, an opt-out filter we have a kind of default censorship in place," he said

"Families should be able to choose if they want to opt in to censorship. If a filter is set up as a default then it can really restrict what people can see legitimately. Sites about sexual health, about sexuality and so on, will get caught up in the same filters as pornography. It will really restrict people's experience on the web, including children's."

At the very least, Cameron needs to ensure that LGBT individuals in the country, and especially LGBT youth, have access to internet resources on sexual health and sexuality. To do so otherwise would be an injustice to a community that has considered him a strong ally as of late. 

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Comments

  1. We see now that Cameron's push for same-sex marriage in the UK was a mere smokescreen for his severe social agenda: crushing the national health system, imposing Draconian cuts to social services, and now state-sponsored censorship of all sexual material.

    Posted by: franklin | Jul 24, 2013 7:39:51 AM


  2. I'm sure UK citizens will get over the mild inconvenience of turning off the now default child safety filters. Also, if anyone is legitimately upset about porn depicting rape and whatever other depictions of abused women end up getting banned their time would be much better spent with a psychologist rather than masturbating.

    Posted by: JMC | Jul 24, 2013 7:42:48 AM


  3. Backlash? The owner of Kink.com is worried about his bottom line? Polls in UK show welcome the filter. It's a choice that puts control in the hands of the individual. Why should kink.com worry about a parent turning off access to porn to kids?

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 24, 2013 8:35:58 AM


  4. How sad, that country just lets its rulers censor them without fighting back. Do those sheep realize where letting the government get away with things like this leads? Just another step towards V for Vendetta.

    Posted by: Hyde | Jul 24, 2013 9:15:32 AM


  5. The more this tory led government tries to impose their regressive policy on Britain the more it causes me to move to vote for Scottish independance. Three years ago I was undecided - now after 3 years of deamonising the poor and disabled hitting the low paid and pressing the privatise everything in sight adgenda Even natural monopolies. Now this internet censorshipcrap, most ISP already set child filters at the request of the customer and supply free software for installation on individual computers for parental supervision of internet use, this is another government power grab and pandering to the tory right wing.
    The torys did not pass SSM more than 1\2 their members voted against, it was the other partys that ensured passage.
    They have driven me to Support Scotlands independance.

    Posted by: renovato | Jul 24, 2013 9:47:31 AM


  6. UK always had those strict censorship laws in the past and they were relaxed gradually under the Labor governments. In the past, no hard core sex was allowed in print or movies. I can still remember those soft core versions of Bel Ami films, made specially for countries like the UK. You could show nudity as long as you said it was art (like Jarman's movies) and in the current case "sexual health". The current proposal by the government is just a return to the good old days. Not completely of course. It will still be legal but you have to opt in to watch porns.

    Posted by: simon | Jul 24, 2013 10:15:34 AM


  7. Kink.com isn't a UK site. It's based in San Fransisco.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 24, 2013 10:27:21 AM


  8. I think PM Cameron makes some good points. I think it would be better if people had the right to "opt in" to the porn filter program, instead of his idea that they would have to "opt out".

    Posted by: andrew | Jul 24, 2013 11:00:20 AM


  9. The whole thing is based on the theory that sex is harmful to children even if they are old enough to want to see it. It seems that the French is more relaxed about it. They just think it is part of human nature like eating or drinking water.

    Posted by: simon | Jul 24, 2013 12:20:24 PM


  10. Heck, the UK suffered for decades under govt. imposed propaganda force-fed through the BBC and other outlets. The typical brit go essentially no information other than what was provided by the state. These outlets see the Internet as a big competitor to their content and want it reigned in. If people can't waste their time watching online porn, they'll be forced to watch the Beeb--or at least that's what the
    Tories and their supporters think will happen. Without a first amendment the govt. is free to regulate the media on the behest of various special interests.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2013 1:06:03 PM


  11. How exactly does one prove they are over the age of 18 to prove they can watch porn (as he wants)? Sounds like a database of people registered who watch porn and who knows how this database will be used in the future

    Posted by: jollysocks | Jul 24, 2013 4:59:04 PM


  12. No porn were English (note I didnt say British)
    This is the same mentality that while the continent of Europe and Mexico etc. were getting rid of any laws against gay relations, "little Englanders" were happily adding to the criminalisation of gay sex which led to Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing being criminalised - have we learned nothing!
    These small minded oiks would be quite happy with us all back in The late 1800's !!

    Posted by: renovato | Jul 24, 2013 5:13:34 PM


  13. I'm so ashamed to be British these days. I hate this man, his party and everything it stands for. Passing SSM was a PR move that a Labour government would have done anyway. And we as a nation are just bending over and taking up the metaphorical ars.e

    Posted by: Jack Ford | Jul 25, 2013 8:38:54 AM


  14. Honestly... I can't understand how the public polls apparently voted in favour of this. I'd be in favour of it if it was an opt-in solution. I like the idea of it as a basis but... there're 2 problems with it.

    1. It's an opt-out. This means that it's an invasion of privacy. It means that for those who wish to access porn, not only do they have to request being able to do so but they have to make it openly known that they want to access it and let's be honest... it's a human right to have privacy. To those who watch porn it's a personal thing that they choose to do in the privacy of their homes.

    2. He's trying to target the freedom people have to view whatever they need or want. This is only the start of the agenda, it's a way to start the paving for a much bigger process to control people.

    People need to start opening their eyes and realising that just because something suits them, they need to think how it will affect others too, what the consequences will be for their actions.

    Posted by: Ricky | Jul 25, 2013 9:25:43 PM


  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58Wf5yZ7Zoc
    Kobalt the Klown goes on the internet!

    Posted by: Kobalt | Jul 26, 2013 5:59:27 AM


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