Periodical Political Post *99

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Periodical Political Post *98

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The UK’s porn ban will be catastrophic for small porn sites

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Porn is not illegal. Please write this down on a sticky note and put it on your fridge at some point before 15 July this year, when the UK government will begin blocking porn sites. It’s important to remember that porn is not illegal, because although the aim of the new law on age verification is to prevent under-18s from accessing adult content, the actual effect will be far broader than that.

The UK government is concerned about youngsters accidentally seeing porn, so for a long time it’s been exploring how to implement robust age verification checks. Not just a tick-box to say “I am over 18” (which, let’s face it, doesn’t work) but forcing adults to prove they are adults. In practical terms this means that you’ll either have to type in identifying details to prove your age (credit card number, drivers’ licence, passport) or visit a shop and show them your ID to purchase a one-off “porn pass”.

Not keen on having to register personal details to watch porn? You’re not alone. There are huge privacy concerns – not only does it encourage users to be freer with this sensitive data, any database that collects this info will be a tempting target for hackers. Just last week a hacker was jailed for six years for blackmailing porn site users, and organisations such as the Open Rights Group have already sounded alarm bells about the huge problems with the way AV will be implemented. It turns out the government is perfectly capable of highlighting these problems without their help, though: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in an act that looked like deliberate self-parody, announced the new date in an email that it sent to hundreds of journalists … exposing all their email addresses because it forgot to use the bcc: feature.

Read on…

Periodical Political Post *97

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The UK’s porn ban is coming. Here’s why it’s a terrible idea.

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The UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the government’s plan to block online porn will go into effect from July 15, 2019.

The scheme will see sites that host porn needing to implement strict age verification measures to ensure that no one under the age of 18 can access them. Experts noted before that the measures likely won’t have the desired effect, due to the ease of circumvention.

But no matter how easy it might be for tech-savvy users to get around laws like these, it’s important to consider the chilling effect they have. They won’t just result in a loss of visitors for porn sites because many people just don’t know how to set up a VPN.

The law will contribute to the stigmatisation of porn, sex work and sexuality in general. Something that happens at an alarming rate lately, mostly at the hands of the British and American governments.

One consequence is that the internet is slowly turning into a puritan dystonia where communities like Tumblr, once a safe haven for queer people and sex positivity, ban even the slightest hint of nudity.

Another is that we’re teaching kids that sex is something dirty and perverse, that their bodies are something to be ashamed of and that masturbation is something so dangerous, it has to be regulated by the government. The chances of all these factors contributing to children growing up with a healthy body image and relationship towards sex are slim, to say the least.

Once in place, laws like these are incredibly hard to repeal because no one wants to be the politician with the Wikipedia page saying that they made sure kids can watch porn.

And we didn’t even touch on the implications of building such a censorship infrastructure yet. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be concerned when a Western government gets inspired by the famous Chinese internet wall. Especially when we consider that the same politicians just a few years ago day dreamt about blocking online “terror propaganda” but kept the definition of the term so vague that even political satire could be affected.

There are plenty of examples of technology being introduced for an allegedly noble cause just to promptly end up being used for something entirely different. Like when German conservatives pushed for online data retention: Instead of fighting terrorism as promised, police used the data to track down people pirating music. Because of course they did.

So even if you don’t mind handing over your credit card data to random porn sites just to jerk off, there are still plenty of reasons to be upset about this law. Politicians are counting on folks being to ashamed to talk about the fact that they enjoy porn. Let’s hope that enough people find the courage to speak up anyway.

Periodical Political Post *96

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