A good article and some useful points raised in the discussion – thanks Ian.
It’s important to remember that these latest administrative measures, driven by the quango “ATVOD” (you really couldn’t make this up), are designed to shut down UK based producers of porn videos. They do not not criminalise the individual who may view this content.
The latter has already been “taken care of” by s63 the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, which criminalises so-called “extreme pornography”. This is so vaguely defined that the viewing of almost any “alternative” sex act could constitute a criminal offence.
In 2008, the Home Office stated that this law would result in no more than 30 prosecutions a year; since 2009 there have been over 5500 prosecutions – in one case for the “possession” of a thumbnail photo of a man wearing a gas mask.
The important thing to note about this act is that it potentially criminalises the viewing of images of a large range of activities that are themselves completely legal.
Dave’s latest move is to append a clause banning “rape porn” to the 2008 act. Bearing in mind that that the mere insertion of a sex toy may constitue “rape” for the purposes of this new law, it will be seen that material showing a further range of consensual (and completely legal) BDSM activities will face criminalisation.
Additionally, it is worth remembering in mind here that the offences discussed above may be committed merely by viewing the material without formally “saving” it, or even by receiving it (unsolicited) in an email.
As to the aims of all of this?
From the “campaigners'” point of view, I have no doubt at all that the aim is indeed to salami slice away porn until it is all but prohibited – and most potential consumers have been scared away.
From Dave’s point of view I think there are probably two aims:
1) Short term: getting some good headlines in places like the Daily Mail.
2) Long term: increasing state control over the internet. The interest in porn is no accident, as they probably calculate that it is the internet’s weakest link, which very few people will be prepared to defend.
In a wider sense these legal measures fully conform to the recent trend in politics of blurring the lines between thought and action, fantasy and reality; I sense that somewhere, Orwell must have a sardonic smile on his face.