Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Privacy United Kingdom Your Rights Online Politics

The UK's War On Porn: Turning ISPs Into Parents 231

New submitter SMABSA writes: With British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing plans for porn users to be required to register their bank account/debit card as a means of age verification, Spiked-Online writer Stephen Beard explores the privacy implications, technical feasibility and motivations of such a plan. Here's an excerpt that gives a feel for Beard's take: Not only are the plans to regulate porn sites intrusive, they are also technically infeasible (as are many bright ideas that come from central government). In the amount of time, for example, it would take to identify a site not complying with the new rules, that site could be mirrored multiple times. Such ineffectiveness has been evident in the government’s futile attempts to censor torrent tracker Pirate Bay. The posturing about protecting children is irksome, too. To pretend that children in decades past haven’t been sneaking a look at mucky images, albeit in magazines and newspapers, is naive at best.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The UK's War On Porn: Turning ISPs Into Parents

Comments Filter:
  • by Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:09PM (#50310251) Homepage
    The government knows damn well that ideas like this are unenforceable. It's not about banning porn anymore than it's about protecting children (as if the government gives a shit about your kids safety). It's about revenue. You can't keep kids from seeing porn - but you can fine the hell out of anyone you catch not following the law. The harder it is to follow the law, the better! If nobody can actually be compliant, then everyone pays a fine.
    • Yes and no (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's definitely about money, not outcome -- but it's not the fines they're after. That's chump change to government. It's the adminstration costs, which will not only dwarf the revenue from fines, but set a precedent for the next round of government expansions.

    • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:30PM (#50310443) Homepage Journal

      The UK government, as do many others around the world, is just playing to a particular enclave of their supporters to gain political capital at the expense of others.

      All this will do is kill a certain proportion of UK porn websites and enthusiasts (ahem) will look elsewhere; abroad.

      That pesky international internet, eh?

      Never mind, though, some dopey true-blue grannies will tell the bridge club what a good job the Tories are doing protecting their grand children. Even though they're not.

      • by Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:48PM (#50310601) Homepage

        All this will do is kill a certain proportion of UK porn websites...

        My point is that shutting down porn sites (following the rules or otherwise) isn't the goal. In fact, if I'm right about it being more about revenue than anything else, shutting down these sites runs contrary to the actual goal - because a shut down site can't pay a fine. Crusades like this never produce real results - there may be an "example" or two made in the beginning, but that's just more about continuing the program and keeping a few thousand overpaid bureaucrats in a job - i.e., making sure the funding keeps on coming. Fines and tax revenue make sure that gravy train never stops - so in the end, it's just tool for channeling all real money to the ruling class. Jerk off to your silly porn all you want, peasant.

        If the government really cared about shutting down porn sites, they'd just shut them down, and no, it wouldn't be impossible. If GHCQ and the NSA can record and archive every single voice call in the developed world, and build a search engine for finding single phrases in those calls at will, then they know damn well what you're watching online and whether or not it's "legit" or not. Similarly, making porn impossible (or so difficult as to be utterly impractical for all but the most die-hard) to obtain would be relatively trivial.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's actually quite oppressive. For example, porn showing the female orgasm with ejaculation is now illegal. A perfectly natural, enjoyable and pleasurable experience that there is nothing perverted or harmful about. It's just an attempt to control people's sexuality, and force misguided immorality on us.

      • Such laws create a black market. It's so obvious it makes me wonder if the creation of the black market doesn't somehow benefit those creating the law (see: war on drugs, prison corporations).

      • by Nyder ( 754090 )

        The UK government, as do many others around the world, is just playing to a particular enclave of their supporters to gain political capital at the expense of others.

        All this will do is kill a certain proportion of UK porn websites and enthusiasts (ahem) will look elsewhere; abroad.

        That pesky international internet, eh?

        Never mind, though, some dopey true-blue grannies will tell the bridge club what a good job the Tories are doing protecting their grand children. Even though they're not.

        You mean, the UK wants to look big on cracking down on child porn while their Government is big on molesting children.

    • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:49PM (#50310605) Homepage
      I'm going to disagree here. There is no significant revenue that can come from the ISPs locking down porn access and people getting for accessing it in other ways. If the UK government wanted more money, it could spend a lot less to get a lot more.

      This is about conservative social values and the political power of "think of the children". Since pornography is pervasive but still taboo in Western society, it's an easy political stranglehold because there simply aren't enough people willing to stand up and say, "It's my right to was two consenting adults go at it online." It's too publicly shameful. "Oh, look at him! He's probably a paedo! I would never look at that filth! Shame him! SHAME HIM!"

      Since no one can publicly admit to it without such extreme shaming, no one's going to stand up and protect it. Thus someone supporting said conservative values will get the support of nearly everyone because "If you don't support it, then you likely should be shamed because you, too, are probably a paedo!"

      This is completely a social and political tactic. Not financial.
      • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:57PM (#50310697)

        And once the censorship infrastructure is in place it's easy to leverage it to censor other things as well. "Oops, I guess we shouldn't have blacklisted that corruption-exposing website. Purely accidental. Don't worry we'll fix the mistake just as soon as these distracting elections are over. Or you know, sometime after that."

        • The next step I expect would be a system for blocking websites that infringe copyright. Possibly by a streamlined court order process.

      • by Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @02:08PM (#50310793) Homepage
        I don't think pornography is taboo in western society. The idea that western society considers it shameful is a straw man created by western media. It's only used for shaming if a person "needs" to be shamed for other reasons (ironically, extreme religious beliefs are often used in the same way) - i.e., Charlie over there won't carry the party line, so we need some dirt on him to make him go away. Did you know he watches porn?? GASP

        On the contrary - the average person doesn't really care what you watch online in private, as they likely watch plenty of the same stuff themselves (or both). I don't have statistics in front of me and I'm too lazy to go looking for them at the moment, but I believe it's estimated that something like 60% of 12 year olds in the US are already hooked. It's safe to say most people watch porn or have at some point - if that's true, then any "taboo" is artificial.
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          ...so you would be comfortable discussing your porn viewing preferences with your boss? Or your parents? Or just anyone that might be paying attention to your Facebook feed?

          I would be quite surprised if the answer to any of those was yes.

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          what you look is private - taboo to talk about to other people.

          that it's taboo doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or be easily available.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        With respect, pornography isn't taboo in the UK. We have had pornographic magazines available in most newsagents for generations. We have had national newspapers who sell 10s of millions of copies each day and feature a topless women on the 3rd page. Softcore pornography is available in every single magazine and is used to advertise everything from cars to cucumbers.

        In short the average Brit is exposed to a huge amount of pornography over the course of their lifetime and there's nothing wrong with it.

        As a c

        • With respect, pornography isn't taboo in the UK. We have had pornographic magazines available in most newsagents for generations. We have had national newspapers who sell 10s of millions of copies each day and feature a topless women on the 3rd page. Softcore pornography is available in every single magazine and is used to advertise everything from cars to cucumbers.

          Yes, but this is pornography on the Internet!

        • by eepok ( 545733 )
          (1) I wish I could mod you up because that's a well argued AC post and I think good AC posts don't get the credit they deserve. Unfortunately, I've already commented in this thread (obviously) and thus cannot use my points.

          (2) While porno is everywhere and easily accessible, anyone found with porno, or publicly admitting to watching/reading/etc. porno is going to be shamed. And that's what I mean by it being pervasive in society but still publicly taboo. If it was in no way publicly taboo, then where's
          • if it was in no way publicly taboo, then where's the UK porno-lovers group standing up for porno rights?

            Porn lovers have never had it so good. If they didn't stand up before they aren't going to now.

            • if it was in no way publicly taboo, then where's the UK porno-lovers group standing up for porno rights?

              Porn lovers have never had it so good. If they didn't stand up before they aren't going to now.

              psst... they can't stand up for a while, they have a humongous hard-on.

              Wait a few moments - there's a good fellow.

      • no one's going to stand up and protect it.

        Why do you think they always pick ridiculous schemes that are guaranteed to fail? If that's not a mildly hidden attempt at preserving it, I don't know how they could be any less subtle. But at the same time, they get to tell (some) people what they want to hear.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:55PM (#50310677) Journal

      The government knows damn well that ideas like this are unenforceable. It's not about banning porn anymore than it's about protecting children (as if the government gives a shit about your kids safety). It's about revenue.

      No, it's about control.

      This gives them the camel's nose into the tent on controlling content. Chipping away at some basic rightalways starts with going after some unpopular behavior - pornography, child molestation, incest, etc. - and setting a precedent that the right isn't absolute. Once this is done, and the right converted to a privilege, there is the matter of setting the line defining what behavior is still allowed - a subset that steadily shrinks. Anyone who calls them on it, of course, can be labelled a supporter of pornography, child molestation, incest, etc., helping them get the initial precedent set.

      Meanwhile, when the "protective measures" don't work, the government will use the failure as an excuse to impose progressively more, and more draconian, interventions. So they both increase the amount of behavior they claim to "legitimately" prohibit and the tools they claim to "legitimately" use to enforce the prohibitions.

      Of course it isn't the pornographers, child molesters, and such that they're after. Its their political opposition. (Money too, of course, and anyone doing anything that interferes with their wishes.)

      The harder it is to follow the law, the better! If nobody can actually be compliant, then everyone pays a fine.

      More importantly: When nobody can follow the law they can bust anybody at their whim. The rule of law is replaced by the rule of the police - the definition of a "police state".

      • I think we're saying the same thing, essentially. Whether the finances are a means of control, or the control is a means of gaining more finances, in the end the result is the same - a ruling elite with everything, and a peasant class to serve them.
    • It's also about power. Remember that thing you used to just be able to do without government involvement... well, about that. Now you have to jump through these hoops. JUMP BOY JUMP! Ohhh, who's a good boy! If you keep being good we'll let you keep on doing that thing you were doing!
    • by namgge ( 777284 )

      I suspect it's more about a mechanism for stopping this sort of news:

      http://www.express.co.uk/news/... [express.co.uk]

      , i.e. the repeated 'news' stories that UK members of parliament are pretty heavy consumers of porn themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2015 @01:11PM (#50310279)

    British kids have had Page 3 girls forever. Why weren't people blaming that for the collapse of society?

    • Indeed. My dad used to get the Sun and the Star and the Sunday Sport (which is basically a porn-newspaper with some bullshit stories made up as a pretence that it's anything else), and I used to rub one out regularly.

      I found it very hard to buy porn magazines in the era that I did such things, I was always fairly embarrassed about it. Internet porn might have been a bit blocky in those days and not as convenient to use, but it was far less embarrassing to obtain.

      What the internet HAS done is caused the coll

  • As a Brit it never fails to amaze me how stupid our Government has become, now this crap about needing a CC or Debit card to provide proof of age, Like there isn't a teen with an IQ of 60 or over that will work out that dads CC works just fine while he sleeps, takes a bath or whatever. Seriously this is as stupid as looking for terrorists on social media. Idiots, the lot of them.
    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      What I don't get is how the Cameron government assumes people are stupid. With VPN services so easy to access, unless they wanted to play a cat and mouse game with blocking anything that remotely even looks like an encrypted IP tunnel, these pornography laws are pointless. Of course, with Draconian laws will come the blowback. The UK hasn't had the folly of the US's Prohibition and War on Drugs, and I hope their government is smart enough to not fall into that trap.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Or alternatively, a teen that is able to download the Tor browser bundle, or burn a Tails CD. Who wants British porn anyways?

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      As a Brit it never fails to amaze me how stupid our Government has become, now this crap about needing a CC or Debit card to provide proof of age, Like there isn't a teen with an IQ of 60 or over that will work out that dads CC works just fine while he sleeps, takes a bath or whatever. Seriously this is as stupid as looking for terrorists on social media. Idiots, the lot of them.

      This is what happens when you elect conservatives.

      Take note America, you've got the next election (sadly Australia wont have a chance to rid itself of the abysmal Abbott govt until 2017).

      But seriously, is this even going to affect kids looking for porn? This will only affect legitimate porn sites hosted or incorporated in the UK, all they'll need to do is go to "dasboobs.de" and they're instantly around it... or do what they've always done to get off and go to pornhub.

  • UK Big Brother (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I thought the UK had left the Mary Whitehouse times behind? Apparently the UK government needs another bogeyman to distract people from the issues it's not like they haven't forced UK ISPs to have a family friendly filter turned ON by default. Guessing that didn't work the way they wanted to but hey ... politicians wont admit failure.

  • As others have noted, just about anything can be pushed through wrapped in a cloak of concern for kids. Is pornography too prevalent? Probably. Is it appropriate to circumvent basic freedoms and liberties to address what is, truly, a minor concern? No.

    But for those losing their minds: Conservative thought is usually defensive, by definition. Further, it usually supports whatever is perceived as protection of property or home. The inexorable result of this focus is a moral police state based on knee-jerk rea

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @02:07PM (#50310785)

    I have retroshare. I have porn. I will share.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @02:19PM (#50310915)

    It is always taken as true that children need to be 'protected.' There is an assumption that seeing pornography is destructive - and if you ask many, supremely destructive, to the point that it is compared to cocaine. No-one dares even raise the possibility that this assumption is false for fear of bring branded a pedophile-enabler.

    Yet I've never actually seem some good evidence to support this assumption - no dependable studies that link moderate levels of porn exposure or viewing by minors (either 18, or actual children) to any form of psychological harm. You can find plenty of anecdotes, yes, but those are worthless.

    The young adults of today grew up with the internet. They had ready access to porn - they could see it any time they wanted, and most will have seen a bit unintentionally. If pornography was one-tenth as destructive as some people claim then the public health implications would be clear right now, possibly in the form of daily porn-fueled orgies in the street.

    if you want some amusing reading, try the website for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. They used to be known as Morality in Media, but they rebranded a while ago because their previous name was a laughing stock and this new name sounds more respectable and politically-neutral. The name change is only superficial - the agenda and arguments haven't changed a bit, and they still spew a stream of hyperbole and scare tactics. Their current approach is to argue that viewing pornography fuels sex trafficking and violence against children. Somehow. They illustrate very nicely arguments of the modern anti-pornography movement.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      So if kids watch porn, that fuels sex trafficking and violence against children? Yeah, that makes sense.

      • As the NCSE says, "Science and research now show a wide range of harm caused by pornography, including direct links to increased demand for sex trafficking, child sexual exploitation and violence against women."

        I am not inclined to trust in whatever research they refer to. I'd have to trawl through a lot of presentations to find an actual paper citation, but I suspect it will be from the type of organisation that has a statement of faith on their website.

  • In addition to raising issues of privacy and government overreach, shouldn't we be concerned that private, for-profit, and criminal [wikipedia.org] banks have become de facto government agencies for age verification?

  • There have been some serious problems with members of Parliment and other high officials involved in paedophilia [wikipedia.org]. Rather than engage in some introspection as to the linkage between power, leadership and sexual deviancy*, the British have gone on a campagin of, "Hur, dur. Porn made me diddle children."

    *To their credit, at least the British collected some statistics. But both in the USA and UK, the investigations started out by looking at the Catholic Church (politically an outsider in both countries) and it

  • When the voters repeatedly demand that the government protect them from the consequences of their own decisions, that's what the government will do. Insist that the government protect you from 'hate speech' or 'racism' or 'sexism' or anything that makes you sad, the government will then ask for tools to do so. If you give them these tools, you can hardly be surprised when they then use these tools to follow some other majority-agenda that you might not be comfortable with.

    And governments have never been n

  • by bledri ( 1283728 ) on Thursday August 13, 2015 @04:46PM (#50311913)

    And here I thought the UK had had the good sense of shipping all the Puritans to the New World.

  • I see nothing that could possibly go wrong with this brilliant plan.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!

Working...