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back to article Possession of extreme porn to become criminal offence

The Government has published a new law which will criminalise extreme pornography. The Government first indicated that it would criminalise the possession of violent pornography two years ago. A new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill has had its first reading in Parliament, which means that it has been published and awaits …

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EH?

maybe we could get some government sanctioned porn instead?

That way good old Gordie could create a ministry of porn so a bunch of civil servants can vet it all day long.

I hear there are some people working for Microsoft doing the same thing in Malaysia, but no one else gets to see the porn - only those perverts in Microsoft.

Who would have thought of that eh? Getting paid to check porn. It might immunise you to regular things, like drinking pints and eating curries.

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Anonymous Coward

Do Censors Dream In Black Boxes?

I suppose that, if it's illegal to VIEW pornographic images, then the Censors are in violation of the law - after all they're the ones who's job it is to LOOK at suspect images all day and decide if they're puerile or not.

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It is a travesty

The new law makes it criminal to possess images of entirely legal acts and expects the consumer to know what is legal to possess or not. It isn't an update to the obscene publications act as that requires a jury to determine whether something is 'likely to deprave or corrupt'. In this law though there is no similar jury-decision.

You could take a snippet from an entirely legal mainstream film and that snippet would land you 3 years in jail for possession if it was being used for erotic purposes.

If you are into BDSM and take images of your own entirely legal private bedroom activities then those photos could land you 3 years in jail. That's right, you can do entirely legal and consensual things with your boy/girl friend but possessing a photo of those same actions would be illegal.

Because after all we have plenty of space in jail and all the serious criminals like murderers and rapists have been caught so the police have plenty of time on their hands. Now we need to criminalise people because they like rough sex/BDSM/fetish.

There have been petitions, protests, most of the individual respondents to the proposal when it first came out opposed it, and yet still they are going ahead with this.

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Anonymous Coward

Thankfully...

...El Reg readers aren't out of their minds and so this legislation shouldn't affect them.

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This is subjective, not *objective*...

I am very disappointed to see that Outlaw.com seems to have just trotted out the Government's line in this article and not looked further at the dangers this law presents:

Here is a link to the relevant part of the CJIB 2007:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/07130.43-46.html#j400

The Government statement does not reveal the sheer *subjectivity* of the proposed law: It will be enough to define "extreme" if it *appears* "likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts, or genitals" and it will be deemed to be "pornographic", if, in someone's *opinion*, it is "for the purposes of sexual arousal"

This also completely bypasses the Obscene Publications Act which has a more stringent test of requiring a Court to determine that the material is "liable to corrupt or deprave" (possibly because the authors of this law have a clear anti-porn agenda and are fed up with the Courts saying "no, this isn't obscence", so they want something that makes it easier for them to ban anything they don't want us to see).

The Government say "The new law is designed to take account of the context of images, and recognises that an image which might seem to constitute extreme pornography in isolation may not do so in a wider context." well, no, that's not actually what the law says: in fact is says quite the opposite!

If you were to watch a BBFC classified film like Saw, Hostel or Captivity and to take a screen capture and someone was to decide that that image fitted the above definitions of "extreme" and "pornographic", then the law says you will have committed a criminal offence which could get you three years in jail! (I hope all those burglars and druggies who have been let out early left the place tidy...)

The Government's comments about "The material has not been illegal to view or possess, though; the new law will make possession a crime. Images of child pornography are already illegal to view or to possess." are nothing more than a huge red herring.

Child pornography is covered under its own, entirely separate, legislation. Apart from State Secrets there are *NO* other classes of image which are illegal to possess, yet the Government wishes to extend the law into an entirely new area by creating a completely false association in the mind of the reader, implying that this will somehow "protect children" even though the images that will most likely be affected will feature consenting adults *acting out* fantasy scenes (which also gives the lie to their implication in the Bill that this would protect adults from being forced into "degrading acts". We're consenting adults, we can make up our own minds about whether we're being degraded, thank you Nanny!)

For more details on the dangers of this law and how it may, quite by accident, affect you, see http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/

To write to your MP to object to a needlessly draconian law that will risk criminalising adults for looking at "Dangerous Pictures" visit http://www.theyworkforyou.com

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Anonymous Coward

Stile? somethingawful?

So what about stileproject.com and somethingawful.com? They've been publishing user-contributed extreme pornographic material for years, for free... Many of those materials are so extreme that only very sick people would find them arousing.

Under this new law, would it be illegal to access those websites? If so, then it's a stupid law. Yet another one, I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward

British dysfunctionalism strikes again.

Even though having rumpy-pumpy with your pet is perefctly legal in many European countries, it's an offence in the UK, so of course they have to make it illegal to even have a photo of someone doing it.

The next step is obviously to make it illegal to possess photos of people breaking into cars, or dropping litter.

Oh wait - they won't do that, because breaking into cars doesn't involve the great British bogeyman - sex.

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Straight but possibly extreme?

Having sex with your neighbour's/colleague's/friend's wife can (if caught) result in serious injury to the penis, anus or other parts. Will "straight" porn performers have to prove they aren't also adulterous?

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Sexual Injury

"violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts, or genitals"

Hmmm... anyone remember Operation Spanner? And what about consensual things like fisting? Disagreeable to many, but perfectly ordinary sex to others. They need to define violence and serious injury as far as they relate to consent.

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Anonymous Coward

Is it just me...

or does making this stuff illegal make it more interesting? I know I'm curious now and want to know what all the fuss is about. I was only interested in porn as a teen because I knew it was illegal (in the UK at the time) now that it is freely available I'm not that fussed.

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Anonymous Coward

Snuff movies are legal, but naked pretend snuff not?

"Material covered will include necrophilia, bestiality, and violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts, or genitals,"

You might recall the Japanese Guinea Pig Films movies, in which a naked woman has her arms and legs tied and then cut off one by one, until she finally faints and dies. You may remember how shocked and appalled middle England was, and how horrified shell suit single moms were from what they read in the tabloids.

How could they murder an innocent woman in such a brutal way and film it? So of course anyone who watched it, is party to the murder and should face jail time.

http://www.guineapigfilms.com/ (NSFW)

So our good and thoughtful government is trying to protect us from evils such as these. You can imagine the horrible scene in your mind of the slowly dying woman wriggling as each of her limbs is cut off, one by one ....

But then again....

It is only in your mind. it's not real. It's IN YOUR MIND, NOT REAL.

It was an overhyped fake gory movie and the tabloids needed a story on a dull day. The makers even made a 'making of' movie for part 2 to calm down the shell suit nanny brigade with their overactive imaginations.

Kill Bill would not be more gory if the actresses were naked as they got their limbs cut off. The cow slaughter scene in Apocalypse Now, is not more gruesome if a naked girl was diddling it at the time. Next time they watch a forced throat gagging movie, notice the girl will put the man's p**** back in her mouth if it falls out.... gee, you don't think she's acting do you? That couldn't be true, could it?

They might think that violent movies lead to real life crimes of violence, but Japan has one of the lowest violent crime rates but one of the most gory sexual movie. So the causal link isn't there.

Why it is legal to show videos of people dying in war, but not if they're pretend dying while having s3x? If there was a link there, wouldn't you ban both?

You might think it would lead to more animals being diddled if bestial1ty movies are legalized, but would the dogs complain? If there's not a problem there, why not legalize them? What problem exactly are you trying to fix that's worth making more criminals and hence more problems?

It's the same problem Britain always has. They make such a big deal out of everything, so the imagined problem is far worse in their minds than the real problem.

But it's only in their minds.

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Not Already Illegal To Publish!

Under the law, an image extracted from a classified work _can_ fall under the law. So, it will be possible that an image which is legal to publish (since it is fine in the classified work) is, if extracted for the purpose of sexual arousal, illegal to possess! [See "65 Exclusion of classified films etc.", http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/07130.43-46.html#j403 .]

More generally, the Obscene Publications Act requires that an image would "deprave and corrupt", but this law has no such test, and simply requires that the image shows an act which appears to be, or appears likely to cause, "serious injury", or appears to show a threat to life.

Another point is that classified works require a special exemption in the bill (if it only covered things already illegal to publish, why would they need to worry about classified works getting caught in it?)

The law is even broader than originally proposed, and would criminalise a large number of consensual S&M images, as well as faked images or images of staged acts.

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Thankfully???

> ...El Reg readers aren't out of their minds and so this legislation shouldn't affect them.

No, I am not "out of my mind", I am, however, a responsible adult who doesn't need the Nanny State to tell me that "You can't look at this in case you do something nasty!"

This law will cover material which is entirely legal in pretty much the rest of Europe and the USA, yet the British* Government thinks it can't trust its people not to be turned into deranged killers if they see this stuff!

*Ironically Scotland may not even bring in its version of this law, so we'll have a Scottish Prime Minister bringing in a law to only affect the English and Welsh and Irish!

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Re: Sexual Injury

To George Forth: Interestingly the bill, in the explanatory note ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/en/07130x-n.htm#index_link_206 ) specifically mentions the Spanner case (Brown), as a justification for this law. Yes, this law will criminalise images of consensual things like that, and their stance is that that's justified, as in law their consent is not valid anyway.

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Venereal Disease?

Hmmm, how far does this go?

What consitiutes injury?

Getting infected with a venereal disease though sex, or whatever, can result in some really nasty effects, esp. if left untreated. So would pictures of people having unprotected sex - which it could be argued would be, "likely to result in injury" (your knob drops off, you become HIV+) - be covered? Who decides?

Would a bit of "slap and tickle", a British phrase if ever there was one, count? Who decides? The prosecutor, the judge? If I remember my biology your skin goes red when struck because the surrounding flesh gets suffused with histamines to help reduce any "injury" so would slapping someone enough to raise a red mark be enough?

In fact - "likely to cause injury", would a photo of a couple kissing where one was poised to slap the other's backside consitute likely, etc., etc., etc.

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RE: Do Censors Dream In Black Boxes?

I've always wondered (well, since lunch-time) since police presumably have special dispensation to break laws in a similar way. Can they view and possess e.g. child pornography with impugnity and if so, does this extend to other areas?

"It looks like cocaine but there's only one way to be sure...Wizeee-woow-owwwweee!!"

And so on.

"She looks like she's soliciting..."

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Moral panic

No other country has agreed to cooperate with this law, why?

Because it's daft. On the face of it banning images of sexual violent abuse sounds fair enough, but then so does banning images of murder. Murder is more serious than even sexual violence isn't it?

So why the fuss why are people complaining, well imagine a law that bans all images of murder. Nothing wrong with that? Except it would mean shutting down Hollywood and a large proportion of T.V. production.

This isn't about real abuse, in fact the Govt. have not even shown the smallest piece of evidence this will affect real abuse in any way, this is about fictional scenes acted out by consenting adults.

Such things may not be to everybodys taste, certainly not mine, but since when did we lock people up on matters of taste?

No evidence has been presented that; anyone is being abused for real, any viewer is 'corrupted' in any way, viewing these images causes harm to society as a whole or that this law will fulfil any of its stated objectives.

This law will allow the police to invade your privacy, just on the suspicion that you have been viewing such images, confiscate your computer, separate you from your family and brand you with the stigma that arrest for a sex offence brings and all the horrendous suffering associated with that.

The Govt. has created a victimless crime. Neither the Govt., the police nor the prosecution has to show any evidence of real harm, of any kind, in order to secure a conviction and lock people up for up to three years.

To those who say, well it's just sick and this law won't affect me, this is a very dangerous precedent. The Govt. can lock you up for looking at things they don't want you to look at.

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And there goes a little bit more freedom

lol The western worlds are supposed to be free, but every day, people's freedoms are being stolen away, for the "Greater good", treating fully adults like children saying you are not allowed to do this.

Introducing vague laws like this makes it easier to continually erode personal freedom.

Slowly taking away freedom and rights was how many dictators and other extreme governments gained power and control over the people.

Though I find the concept of many of the things the law wishes to forbid appaling, I still think it a problem to make viewing them an offense, as this can be done accidentally. If they want to do something, get going with harmonizing international law, and forbid the production. Of course this requires work and is difficult, it's easier for the cronies just to make it illegal, and then they can throw anyone who object into jail.

regards

Michael Nielsen.

A german poem about nazism comes to mind.

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

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Anonymous Coward

Yes it's just you

I just don't buy the curiosity angle. Some things are just wrong. Anyone in possession of kiddie porn, animal porn or extreme porn has to have issues, serious issues (and don't get me wrong I like "normal" porn).

I'm not in the least concerned this is the thin edge of some censorship wedge waiting to sweep over ever tamer content. Freedom is not a binary quantity and a generally acceptable consensus on what is way past being normal is pretty easy.

Naked people: tame - beautiful.

People having various forms of consensual sex: adults only.

Children, animals, sexual violence: wrong. Just plain wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Why are they 'just wrong'

"Some things are just wrong. "

Why?

Usually the argument runs that you remove person X's freedom because to have that freedom would result in person Y & Z's freedom being removed. i.e. the greater good argument.

So kiddie diddling videos are illegal because it impinges on the kids rights, kids are *presumed* not to be able to freely consent as a precautionary measure. Possession is a further precautionary measure in case it would encourage production of diddling vids. But how does that translate to what they describe here? Consenting adults making dirty p0rn for other consenting adults, even if its whipping or best1ality? How is the greater good served there?

Worse still, how do you then rationalize it, so that a video on the news of a man being shot is legal (presumably he didn't concent to getting killed) and yet a video of a vomit sex or whatever it is that offends you, is illegal?

"(and don't get me wrong I like "normal" porn)"

I bet if we wired you up to a meter we'd find you like dirtier stuff. I always think that when politicians complain with false moral outrage over something, it's driven by guilt. I bet if we wired any one of them and showed them some extreme p0rn the meter would shoot up.

Maybe that's the test, any politician who says its unnatural and sick, should be wired up to see if they show a positive sexual attraction to such material.

A hypocrite test.

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Anonymous Coward

Nanny Blairs Reign of Terylene Has Ended

The endless laws to fix problems that did not exist.

The causal links that were presumed to be there by our all knowing nanny leader.

The endless all smothering government.

The fixes that only work INSIDE BLAIRS HEAD.

Enough. Give it up, treat people like adults. Blairs reign of terylene is over and there's no need to copy the religious extremism in the US. All of that has been discredited now.

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Anonymous Coward

Definition of "not intended"

The Ministry of Justice should know full well that saying ,quote, "The new law is not intended to target those who accidentally come into contact with obscene pornography; "end quote ,means absolutely zilch !. So what is "not intended" exactly, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY is it going to be defined in the new bill, or left to the gestapo police that we have nowadays ?.

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Anonymous Coward

What about cartoons

Well, does this apply only to photos and videos? Sound clips? Art on canvas?

abe

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Tats & piercings

I've never had either, but I understand that tats and (especially) piercing hurt something terrible. So, would a movie of a woman having her nipple or clit pierced, and her letting out a blood curdling scream, constitute "extreme" pornography?

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No, it's not "just me"!

> Some things are just wrong.

Are they? Well, yes, I think the Big Brother TV series is "just wrong". I think that Celebrity Culture is "just wrong", I think that talentless people getting paid huge salaries is "just wrong", but just because I don't like them doesn't mean I call for them to be banned.

You say you like "normal porn"? What do *you* define as "normal" and how arrogant do you have to be to think that you can define "normal" for everyone else as well?! Don't forget that homosexuality was defined as "abnormal" up until fairly recently, based on "community standards" that considered it "abhorrent". Is that the sort of example you think we should follow?

> a generally acceptable consensus on what is way past being normal is pretty easy.

Sure, in fact it's not just "pretty easy" it's *really* easy! Unfortunately when that "consensus" is decided by media who see opportunities to sell more papers by simultaneously acting as the "moral voice of the outraged public" and, at the same time, pandering to the lowest common denominator, you can't help but note the faintest hint of hypocrisy!

> People having various forms of consensual sex: adults only.

> Children, animals, sexual violence: wrong.

Children and animals cannot consent.

An adult, however, *CAN* consent to having someone perform acts of "sexual violence" upon their person because they are an *adult*, just as they can stand in a boxing ring and consent to have someone try to punch their brains out of their ears!

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that what *your* standards are should be the standards for *everyone* (well, not unless you're going into politics!)

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Tats and Piercings

@Dylon Pyron:

> So, would a movie of a woman having her nipple or clit pierced, and her letting out a blood curdling scream, constitute "extreme" pornography?

No, as long as there was no "sexual gratification" involved!

If you don't enjoy it, that's fine. If you do, you're committing an offence.

Stupid, isn't it?!

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Moral panic

This will not apply to cartoons as far as I can make out, but it wouldn't surprise me if the puritan league who pushed this law would be so mad as to try and censor cartoons too. LOL! That would be a minefield and they would likely end up a lauging stock, political cartoonists would have a field day.

Again we see comments such as "it shouldn't be allowed". Why? Because you don't like it? If you are going to lock someone up for looking at a picture, then you should have a damn good reason and evidence to back that up.

The right to the freedom of speech protects even those things which may disturb Governments or any section of the population, it isn't just for what is popular and should only ever be infringed when proof of a pressing need can be shown, not merely on matters of taste.

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democratic country with freedoms

I remember that in the deeply evil and undemocratic Soviet Union, when the VCRs first started to appear, and people had movies like “blue lagoon”, they would get arrested, for the possession of pornography.

The neighbours (legal practice in Russia, neighbours are called to witness police searches) would be shown a section of the tape, and asked – is this pornography? – If the answer was yes (it always was) the possessor of pornography would go to trial, and then jail.

Now, this would never happen in a democratic country with freedoms... oh wait...

P.S. “likely to result in serious injury to the anus” – this is so going in the “about” section of my IM profile...

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AQ or just loons

I thought we were trying to keep Al Qaeda out of the UK. Sadly, it appears we elected them to parliament. How soon now before the compulsory M&S burka? Or how soon before 'New Labour' realise that legislating against the gravitational pull of the moon does not actually stop the tide coming in? So give the Police buckets and more overtime, better yet declare an 'initiative', appoint a tide csar, set a tide turning performance target and allocate special funding - only to be pulled when a focus group/the Sun newspaper tells you people are more concerned about the stars twinkling. Gordon Brown et al ..get help, get a life, get out, before you make the United Kingdom the laughing stock of the civilised world.

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Anonymous Coward

War crimes

So we're never gonna see "Extraordinary Rendition the Movie"?

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Re: Yes it's just you

"People having various forms of consensual sex: adults only."

The problem is that this law _will_ criminalise images of acts between consenting adults!

No one here is defending acts involving children, animals, or non-consensual violence.

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OK, I'll be the first to say it ...

Necrophilia ... who'd be interested anyway ... it's dead boring.

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Anonymous Coward

I am

"No one here is defending acts involving children, animals, or non-consensual violence."

Oh but I am.

Can a dog consent to sex? Has a dog ever shagged your leg? Is the dog red rocket and mounting the woman during a video not consent? If you want to video your wife diddling your dog what business is that of HMGov?

Non-consensual violence, if the TV shows a man in Vietnam getting shot through the head is that consensual? No, but is it illegal? A video of an act is not the act itself. The argument for banning the video, has to be that it can be shown to encourage the illegal act. Since you're banning free speech it has to be real cause-effect and not some 'just in case' reasoning too.

Finally the most problematic of all, Children. I think it's fine to ban child p0rn because production of it would cause a significant non consensual production of more of it.

But possession is much more problematic. Take the case of the kids in Florida who had consensual sex (legally), but they took photos of themselves doing it and faced child p0rn prosecutions as a result. The law presumes they can't consent for the purposes of making porn (false, they both agree they consented and were of legal age to have sex in Florida) but possession of the porn is enough to face a 10 year sentence. It was a well meaning but overreaching law, at best they should have made *distribution* a crime.

Note that a separate UK law already covers possession of child p0rn, this new law would extend that to cover 'realistic' (i.e. fake) child p0rn, so young looking models in school outfits for example, and changes the test to be a persons opinion, rather than any level of evidential proof. A classic Nanny Blair sign, 'trust us, we promise not to abuse this wide ranging arbitrary law we just made'.

I think this is a legacy item from Nanny Blair, and should be put away in the cupboard, like a lot of his well meaning but badly thought through ideas.

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Anonymous Coward

The proposed law is illegal

One of the principals of European human rights is that any law must be precise enough for someone to know in advance whether they are about to commit an offence.

As the definition of "extreme" is totally subjective and will depend on the whims of the prosecuting authorities, there is no way someone will know whether an image in their possession would be considered illegal or not.

So even if this idiotic law makes it onto the books, it won't be there for very long.

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Soo....

Does it make the joke about the guy who was into BDSM, Necrophilia and Beastiality but he gave it up as it was like flogging a dead horse, an illegal joke then?

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Catch 22

The Bill says consent of the people featured cannot be a defence because people should not be allowed to participate in degrading activities.

If the people in the pictures are consenting (and that’s regardless of how the images are made; they could be theatrical, professionally photoshopped, simulated by stunt people or simply shots taken out of context.) then where is the degradation?

Degradation is about abuse and loss of power. And by that standard, the government is degrading us by abusing our right to choose what we look at and by taking away our power. And by the Bills own statements, people should not be allowed to participate in degrading activities.

So, by adhering to such a spurious and pointless law in the first place, people would then be breaking it!

I cannot see how this law in any way benefits the country.

Letting serious criminals out of prison early? Oh lets fill up the spaces with people who watch porn! They are the real criminals in society arent they????

Quite insane.

Thank you to Graham Marsden above. I have written to my MP about this.

They need to get their heads out of the bedroom of consenting adults and get back to running the country. Thats what we pay them for.

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Re: I am

"Oh but I am."

Yes, you make good points, I don't really disagree with what you say. It's a matter of debate whether banning possession is the right way of dealing with it. In the case of child porn, I think that paying for it can be said to increase demand, and I can see the argument for criminalising possession to avoid proving that someone paid for it (though then again, it surely can't be that hard, since there'll be a record of electronic payments - that's how most of them are surely caught, anyway...)

This does lead to some silly applications of the law - the case you mentioned in Florida, but also in the UK, the Government's Internet child protection agency recently warned that under-18s who pose naughty photos of themselves over a webcam are at risk of prosecution for publishing child porn ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6757827.stm ).

But with "extreme porn", there seems to be no evidence of people paying for photos of non-consensual acts.

Regarding bestiality, I agree too - I think it is better treated as an issue of animal cruelty (some acts would certainly be cruel, but a dog initiating leg-shagging probably isn't) rather than a separate crime in itself - it was only made a separate crime in 2003, in fact.

Actually, realistic fake child porn is already illegal, but I think that means things like manipulated photos, not unmanipulated photos of young looking models? I don't see anything changing about this in the new law? (There is a bit which extends it to non-realistic images, but only where they were derived from images which are currently illegal.) But that's an interesting bit in itself - it would seem absurd to criminalise a photo of your adult girlfriend dressing up in school uniform (which must be one of the most cliched fetishes around), but this law will do exactly that to images of adults roleplaying activities that involve playing-dead or pretend-violence.

In summary, I guess my point is that opposing this law doesn't mean we are supporting non-consensual acts themselves, and even if people do think images of those things should be illegal, the problem is that this law covers fictional images, and images of acts between consenting adults.

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Moral panic

This has nothing to do with 'protecting' anyone. No evidence has been shown of a crime, nevermind how this law will prevent said crime. The Govt. has not named any site where they can show real serious sexual violence took place. No attempt to define or assess the extent of the 'problem' has been made at all.

They have shown no evidence that viewing this material harms anyone in any way, the individual, those who act the scenes, or society as a whole.

They present their assumptions of harm as fact and then fail to show how this law will affect even the crimes they assume are happening. People will be locked up for looking at harmless images, because the Govt. wants to be seen to be 'doing something'.

This is gesture politics of the worst kind, a junior minister, Vernon Coaker, was persuaded to jump on this particular bandwagon (by Martin Salter MP) and now the Govt. finds itself having to back this mad law.

We can only hope that the teeth are pulled form this monster in commitee or the Lords.

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The Noose

So some nutter kills a women while playing sexy games(or so he claims}

resulting in a new law being passed to prevent those games.

And after the next sex related murder,will we have a new law banning something else

and so on and so on.

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