OPINION: David Cameron’s “War on Porn” is a disgusting mixture of cynicism and technological ignorance

david cameron
david cameron

Well, thank goodness. It seems that the innocence of British children will be preserved once and for all. Our rosy-cheeked youth will be able to enjoy their ginger beer and egg sandwiches while spending countless hours on Facebook gaming without fear of looming online paedophiles or naughty images.

As you might know, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently repositioned himself as a sort of doughy-faced kiddie saviour, having coerced four major UK ISPs into agreeing to enforce a mandatory porn filter named Active-Choice +.

david cameron

Pitching straight to his Daily Mail heartland, and preying on ordinary parents’ fears of a world that many do not understand, Cameron’s latest PR campaign is a sickening mix of opportunism and ignorance, following two horrible crimes in the UK involving minors who were killed after the perpetrators had viewed child porn online.

Are we creating a database of porn consumers?

Do we really believe that paedophiles are Googling their images? And what about peer-to-peer sites, the Deep Web and heavily protected forums? And veering away from the deep-rooted Child Catcher fears, Cameron says he also wants to protect children from simply witnessing “inappropriate” images online.

Am I the only one who is reminded of this Brass Eye episode with Cameron’s latest hysteria bating?

Porn filters already exist for parents on any ISP registration as an opt-in option. If accessing the adult content becomes the opt-in, are we creating a national list of “porn browsers”? And if so, who has access to this information? In light of the NSA revelations, this is a massive threat to our freedoms of information and expression.

And what about the fact that many people now tap up Tumblr, Reddit etc for a quick hit of porn GIFs? How do you police these effectively?

What constitutes porn? Er, we’re not sure yet…

Cameron has also recently admitted that what would be filtered out was still up for discussion. On UK TV he stated: It will depend on how the companies choose how to do it. It doesn’t mean, for instance, it will block access to a newspaper like The Sun, it wouldn’t block that – but it would block pornography.”

So kids can still see women with their tits out when they’re owned by a massive media conglomerate with strong ties to the Tory leadership. Jolly good.

Cameron said “It will depend on how the filters work” whether written erotica would be filtered. Surely suburban Mums will be up in arms if they can’t get their next fix of 50 Shades? And what if kids are Googling for sexual health issues? Advice on sexuality? Helplines and forums that provide information that parents might be too embarrassed to discuss?

Don’t the British have enough issues around sex already?

lemons

Not every kid is lucky enough to have a relaxed and groovy parent that will talk through sexual issues in a healthy and helpful way. My own mother’s single nugget of sexual advice to me was “don’t let boys near you”. Kids are curious and if they’re not getting information at home, they’ll get it from any outside information source. For this generation, that means their peers and the web. And no amount of parental control or censorship will prevent that. Remember –– kids are little truffle pigs when it comes to sniffing out illicit stuff.

As Cindy Gallop, founder of Makelovenotporn.com – a site that could easily be affected by this recent move despite its disruptive and progressive stance – told us: “The problem is when you force issues like this into the shadows. If it’s underground, you make it easier for bad things to happen, harder for good. We want to enable open, healthy discussion around sex, to change the way that couples, parents and children consider real-world sex as opposed to porn. And unless we address the porn industry just like any other, and make better products this won’t change.”

Personally, I also think that British psyche has quite enough historical repression around sexuality thank you very much. We don’t need to cultivate a Cameron-protected, proto-Victorian generation that connects sex with the taboo, the naughty, the not-allowed, the fetishised. I mean, think how many high-ranking historical Tory MPs were involved in kinkiness of the highest order? And that was in the days before you could Google “oranges and bin bags”.

As Gallop adds: “Sex is fundamental. It affects ourselves, other people, our relationships, our happiness. We need parents to talk to their children about the real issues around sex, to take the shame and embarrassment out of it, rather than slap censorship on it.”

I agree. And I am reminded how very lucky I am to live in Germany – a country where you might get lynched for recycling incorrectly, but that will fight for personal internet freedoms with pride and in the European Parliament. Now, where’s that Bang With Friends account?

Image credits:

Cameron: flickr user x1brett
Lemons: flickr user: cocratr 

For related posts, check out:

Cindy Gallop of MakeLoveNotPorn – A guide to becoming a VC’s wet dream
Thought your Bang With Friends account was a secret? Think again…