The Porn Block Is Confined To The Dustbin Of History… For Now

porn-ban

The British government’s internet censorship plans are dead… for now.

And so, with a wimper rather than a bang, the UK government’s unloved and unwanted porn block, continually delayed and constantly explained as unworkable by people who actually know what they are talking about, has been quietly dropped. While people are distracted by the latest Brexit antics, Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that her department will no longer be pushing ahead with their lunatic plans for age verification, much to the relief of privacy campaigners, free expression advocates and pretty much anyone else who knew anything about both the difficulties of imposing such a system onto the whole world and the likelihood of mission creep – the probable expansion of age verification beyond porn once the system was in place.

No doubt the BBFC (who have been desperately pushing the dangers of porn lately through factually empty ‘research’), PornHub and other age verification companies who were rubbing their hands at the vast income to be made from controlling what people could or couldn’t look at online are very disappointed about this, but it’s a rare moment of common sense kicking in for a British government more concerned with appeasing the Daily Mail and striding ahead on a moral mission than actually understanding both the effects of widely available porn on under-age viewers (which have been far from proven as both widespread and dangerous) or protecting the rights of the adults who would be forced to hand over highly personal inormation into what would quickly become a blackmailer’s wet dream and the number one target of international hackers.

It’s something to celebrate, but we shouldn’t feel too complacent just yet. The age verification legislation might have bitten the dust, but there’s still the forthcoming, and much wider ranging Online Harms White Paper – that seeks to impose a ‘duty of care’ scheme on ISPs, social media companies and websites. And as the Age Verification laws would have exempted social media and other sites that were not more than ‘one third pornographic’. it’s possible that the law will come back in an even more restrictive way at some future point. The ever-dreadful Diane Abbott has already taken to Twitter to fume that “very young children will still be able to access hardcore porn”, and if there is a change of government any time soon – and that’s certainly a possibility – there’s every chance that politicians might seek to revive and enhance the legislation for ideological reasons. Today is a good day, but we shouldn’t become complacent – this battle may have been won, but the war is far from over.

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