• Leon Hawthorne Show

Porn & Order



Porn is everywhere; and the government is concerned children have access to porn websites. So, it's introduced a new law to make the UK the safest place to be online. Will this law work and what effect will it have on consenting adults?

VIDEO SCRIPT:

Hardcore websites. Barely legal? Time to investigate porn and order?

Hi. I’m Leon Hawthorne. Porn is everywhere.

There are thousands of porn websites displaying every form of sex or fetish you could imagine. All available at the click of a mouse… straight, gay, transsexual, white, black, Asian, blonde, brunette, fat, skinny, shaved, hairy… you name it, you can get it.

Nothing wrong with that? Not if you’re a consenting adult.

But the government is concerned about children being prematurely sexualised through easy access to Internet porn.

So, just before the General Election, a new law was rushed through parliament. It’s called the Digital Economy Act and it’s due to come into force next year.

It forces all porn websites to verify viewers are over eighteen years old before allowing them access. I’ll come back to how this law will be enforced in a moment.

But first…there is a genuine concern about the pornification of our culture.

Sex is used in commercials to sell everything. This one’s for burgers… obviously. Teens sexting nude pictures of themselves. Celebrities making sex tapes. And scantily clad women in music videos.

Miley Cyrus. Ariana Grande. Selena Gomez.

The complaint is the porn culture is ubiquitous, encouraging young people - girls especially - to overly value what’s between their legs and not what’s between their ears.

And boys who watch porn often see women being degraded; and think this is how to behave in sexual relations in the real world.

Now, I won’t deconstruct each of those arguments. I’ll just say: instead of trying to put our hands over their eyes, parents and teachers need to have realistic conversations about sex and relationships with our kids.

We cannot turn back time or disinvent the Internet and no law - as we shall see - can stop them watching porn.

The Digital Economy Act forces porn sites to verify users are over 18 years old.

If the websites fail to do so, the government can order Internet Service Providers to block the site, ban credit card payments, ban advertising… effectively try to shut them down… even those based outside the EU… in theory.

However, the government has failed to explain just how your age can be verified and how this new law will be enforced.

The British Board of Film Classification, the BBFC - currently in charge of cinema and DVD ratings - has been nominated to be the regulator of Internet porn. It’s expected formally to begin its duties next spring.

But it too hasn’t explained how age verification will work.

It’s possible users will be asked to verify their age by giving credit card details, or details from their passport or driving licence.

Think about that for a moment. You go to a free porn website and the government insists on an age verification system, which inevitably means the collection of your data, which could be matched up with embarrassing sexual proclivities.

Clearly, this poses a massive threat to user’s security and confidentiality. These porn sites, that currently collect no data, soon could have your name, address, age and other personal details.

The Information Commissioner has warned the government this poses a significant risk to privacy unless the age verification system has the right safeguards… whatever they might be.

Remember Ashley Madison, the website for married people looking for adulterous hookups. Its users’ data was hacked and published; and the consequences were devastating. At least two people were reported to have committed suicide.

Also, just how effective is any age verification system, anyway? Every teenager has access to a parent’s credit card or ID and can use that to get into these porn sites.

So, the Information Commissioner says porn sites have to verify it’s the actual adult in front of the computer?

How do they do that? Well, if you try to login to your bank account, often they will text a code number to your mobile phone, which you then enter to access your account.

Great, so some dodgy Russian porn site will have your mobile number, along with your ID and credit card details? What could possibly go wrong?

What a joke. This law demonstrates the worst kind of legislation. Rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny, without citing the specific methodology it will use. Totally impractical. Totally unenforceable on foreign websites.

The government wants to look like it’s doing something, when technology means it really cannot… not without using Draconian measures that threaten wider liberties.

You cannot stop kids watching porn, no more so than you can stop them smoking cigarettes behind the bike shed.

It happens. Deal with it in a mature fashion and stop making stupid laws that create more problems than they solve.

Thanks for watching.


© Leon Hawthorne. MMXX.