And they say feminists are hysterical...

(174 Posts)
FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 19:38:27

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/28/iceland-porn-ban-free-society

So a group of activists from different countries (including Laurie Penny) have penned this gem of a letter to the Icelandic minister in charge of the pornography ban proposal. It includes such gems as:

"The current discussion of blocking pornographic content has offered no definition, no evidence and suggested no technology. This is an affront to the basic principles of the society..."

Eh? What basic principle of society would that be?

"Rather than silencing a voice, the result is depriving the population of material they can see and read. This is censorship, as it skews the way people see the world."

What? Through the filter of a woman's vagina?

"The right to see the world as it is, is critical to the very tenets and functions of a democracy and must be protected at all costs."

Just, fucking, wow.

"The prohibition of pornographic content may create demand for an underground porn industry, unregulated and most certainly affiliated with other illegal activities..."

So we must not regulate pornography on the internet because if we do, an unregulated porn industry might arise. OK, got it.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 28-Feb-13 19:42:50

Because the world as it is is women being raped on screen, humiliated and sexually tortured?

Really?

Remind me never to accept an invitation to any of their bedrooms. hmm

And FFS, it's OK to skew the way people see the world if that skewing is in favour of ensuring they think women are mindless fuck-toys, but skewing it into thinking maybe we might be human - Outrage! Censorship! Freedom of Speech!

Bunch of wankers.

DameFanny Thu 28-Feb-13 19:46:03

Good lord. You mean there could be an unregulated porn industry? My word. hmm

AuntieStella Thu 28-Feb-13 19:49:43

They are right that the technology doesn't exist. And for as long as that is the case, you may as well ask for a unicorn.

And that's aside from the questions of how to define porn for this purpose.

FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 19:53:09

Actually, the writers of this letter are not saying the technology does not exist. In fact they say it does.

Pornography has been defined in law for years, in many different countries.

AuntieStella Thu 28-Feb-13 19:58:29

Read empusa's posts on the issue of porn blocking when it comes up in UK.

The technology doesn't exist.

And porn would need to be defined for is purpose, and a list maintained of banned sites. Which would need to be updated daily with the hundreds/thousands of new sites that spring up. And then what about the sites that aren't useful labelled "porn B here"?

FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 20:09:08

It's not correct to say that there would need to be a list of banned sites. How do you think search engines work? Most porn could be blocked quite easily so that, at the very least, children do not access images of women being raped using Google. You might not stop every IT geek but you could hugely reduce the prevalence and ease of access.

AuntieStella Thu 28-Feb-13 20:16:44

I recommend this thread , which has expert posts on why this doesn't work.

It's not attacking the aim, BTW. Or supporting the pulication of pornographic images in any way. The thread just pointing out that it won't work.

And to exclude a "found" item from a search engine results, you do need to tell the search engine to exclude it. Hence need for definition of what is banned.

You don't need to be an IT geek. Most yr8s can circumvent filters, or find content that the filter hasn't been told to block.

FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 20:35:02

I don't agree with that view but I know lots of people do.

The letter is about why internet pornography should not be banned, not that it could not be.

Trekkie Thu 28-Feb-13 21:12:13

You see, if they said they thought it was unworkable, then I could understand that.
But if they thought it was unworkable, why bother writing letters about it confused

Does this freedom of speech in porniness extend to their wanting all porn of whatever nature to be freely available? Judging from their arguments I would say yes, but I imagine if you asked them how keen they would be on genuine total freedom of people to watch whatever they like, their answer would be somewhat different.

So, essentially, they are utter hypocrites. They have a line, the same as the Icelandic people who have suggested this have a line, the line just falls in a different place. They are just too stupid/narrow-minded/what-have-you to even understand that.

WhentheRed Thu 28-Feb-13 22:09:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

yournamio Fri 01-Mar-13 00:14:14

Give it another 5 years and Iceland will be a dictatorship like country like Iran.

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 00:16:13

back again?

LineRunner Fri 01-Mar-13 00:17:47

Forget the technology.

The arguments in the Laurie Penny et al letter about the basic principles of society, free speech and what reality looks like are preposterous.

yournamio Fri 01-Mar-13 00:19:40

www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ways-bypass-uk-pirate-bay-block/

Once again, it can't and won't work.

scaevola Fri 01-Mar-13 07:15:28

It is cart before horse, though.

Whilst there is no adequate technology, it cannot happen. Those proposing non-existent blocks look a bit silly. And give space to those who point out the weakness of the position, as it asks for something that cannot be had.

The level of control required would give the enacting authority (Government) huge control over Internet content (for porn isn't tidily labelled as a cyber category). Without devising a way to control content identification globally (which would mean basically mean reinventing the entire Internet), it cannot be done.

Attitudes to porn need to be tackled elsewhere, not via the illusion of magic "porn be gone" non-existent technology. For that will inevitably bring the censorship issues to the fore. And the obvious answer that if you don't want it in your home, you use the existing technology for filters on devices under your control, and make your own judgements on content.

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 07:32:38

There are no laws that can be enforced to ensure full compliance, whether it is murder, assault, illegal drugs, speeding or theft. If there were, we would not need the police, the criminal courts nor the jails. It is not a reason not to legislate. In general, making an activity illegal will have an effect on a great many people who consider themselves law abiding and do not want to risk breaking the law, particularly where it is quite easy to trace. In addition, a huge benefit can be obtained for relatively little effort (e.g. targetting the main search engines stops inadvertent access to porn).

The censorship issue is totally separate and that was the issue addressed in this letter. If anything, I think the writers of this letter look "a bit silly" as their arguments are preposterous and they are acting as the unpaid lackeys of the porn industry.

Sausageeggbacon Fri 01-Mar-13 09:39:28

Forgetting Iceland, the issue of porn in the UK wasn't about blocking porn but about should people opt out or have to opt in to see porn. At no point has it been said adults who want to look at porn will be stopped. So assuming at some point the technology can stop porn and proxy servers/redirected browsers/anonymous surfing tools are stopped the individual has to make a decision. The argument is should it be that you need to state you don't want porn (opt in scenario) and people as standard can access porn. Or the other way round where you have to say you want to be able to see porn.

DS1 has pointed out that we have one bit of software on the pc that would allow him to bypass controls and he can type in hidemyass.com so straight away even if we opted in or didn't opt out he would be able to access porn if he wanted to. Both options avoid the ISP seeing directly what you are doing.

So technology wont do the job and all the government can do is talk big. But in the UK they are not talking about actually banning porn.

scaevola Fri 01-Mar-13 09:48:40

" So assuming at some point the technology can stop porn and proxy servers/redirected browsers/anonymous surfing tools are stopped"

When/if this comes to pass, the argument would change totally.

At present, it's nothing to do with being "lackeys of the porn industry" and everything to do with avoiding the silliness of attempting to legislate on the currently impossible.

curryeater Fri 01-Mar-13 11:11:41

This "unworkable" argument is such bollocks. You don't get this with other laws. "Oh it is so hard to stop drunk people hitting each other when they fall out of the pubs so let's just cancel ABH and GBH as crimes." "You hardly ever catch burglars so why not just say burglary is fine?"

Sausageeggbacon Fri 01-Mar-13 11:45:57

Curry how do you suggest people report the breaking of the law? The only way to catch people would be to have random spot checks by highly skilled computer forensic experts. And the tools that would hide traffic are freely available and legal. Besides the UK is not talking about making it a crime just how access is managed.

Iceland is talking it up to make themselves look good even though they know what they are talking about can't happen which is stupid in my mind. If you are going to talk about legislation you can only do it when you have the tools to back it up.

curryeater Fri 01-Mar-13 11:48:55

We currently have laws in this country against indecent pictures of minors.
I completely support this, but have not made it my business to know how they are enforced. Presumably they must be, if imperfectly, because you do hear of people being prosecuted for possession of bad images. This whole tangent is a complete stinking red herring.

Sausageeggbacon Fri 01-Mar-13 12:06:41

Discussed the issue of child porn with a member of the police about a year ago and in his words it is almost impossible to catch them. They will set up a server in a country that doesn't have the same laws as the UK and they will issue an IP address to a circle of people via sms. By the time the police have found and identified the IP address that server will close and it will start again on a different IP address. Even with highly skilled computer experts they cannot stop this as the constantly changing details are too frequent. People being caught is nearly always by them making a mistake when the computer breaks or they upgrade to a new computer. The fact is they store images/films and it is only if that fact is discovered the police stand a chance of catching them.

Curry I have a son that is a bit of a wiz with computers and he showed me two ways to hide access to sites in the last week. I am sure he knows more but the point is if a 13 y/o can do this with us sharing a computer just how do people think they can control access?

curryeater Fri 01-Mar-13 12:18:43

Sausage, with child porn, do you think we should have laws against it even if they hard to enforce?

EldritchCleavage Fri 01-Mar-13 13:20:11

Actually, you do get unworkability arguments in relation to other laws. Passing laws that cannot be enforced or can only be enforced by a draconian and disproportionate effort tends to bring the law into disrepute (which is where people in favour of drugs legalisation say we are with the Misuse of Drugs Act) . For starters, it can legitimise law-breaking (the law is an ass, so feel free to ignore it) that undermines the rule of law all around, and not just in the area affected by the bad law. So it does matter.

I wouldn't want to hand any government control over internet use, even for the broadly laudable aim of stopping pornography. Better to revise definitions of what is and is not obscene content and punish content providers.

And the American legal and cultural position of freedom of expression as a pre-eminent and absolute right does not apply to us and other ECHR-signatory countries. Other rights are in play here and the debate needs to be framed accordingly.

curryeater Fri 01-Mar-13 13:59:39

Eldritch, I believe that people who make that argument about drug laws also (often) believe that some recreational drug use is ok.

I don't think anyone has argued that we should legalise burglary, yet every time you report one, the police just nod and give you a crime number.

I notice that sausage has not answered my question about whether she thinks that we don't need laws against child pornography, and this is very telling. I think she does think we need these laws, no matter how hard they are to enforce, because we care about the welfare of our children and we should do everything in our power to protect them. Even if, unfortunately, that is sometimes not enough.
I think society as a whole does not care about women and doesn't see the value in protecting them, and only in the context of this (unspoken) attitude does it have any relevance that a potential law protecting women is hard to enforce. If it mattered, you would start with the law, or at least the will for the law, and work out the logistics of enforcing it within that framework.

I do agree that the "freedom of speech" thing is an imported and misleading figure of speech.

Sausageeggbacon Fri 01-Mar-13 14:28:36

Curry there already laws against child porn, what I was saying is that the police themselves admit how difficult it is to control. Any mother would want that porn stopped. The difficulty comes in the users of that type of porn screen themselves with software so the ISP cannot detect what is being passed. So constantly changing details with software to protect the end users the police have been trying for years to catch these people and yet they don't.

As to "normal" porn the UK is not going to ban it. The discussion is should people be free to choose as the default or should they have to opt in to access it. This will have nothing to do with child porn which is illegal and as far as I am concerned anyone accessing it should be castrated.

curryeater Fri 01-Mar-13 14:46:01

Sausage, what this is actually about is the letter opposing Iceland banning pornography, and their ban itself. It is, if at all, only tangentially about the practical business of what is available on the internet, especially in this country.
I argue that it is NOT about that AT ALL, because practical difficulties are being used as a rhetorical distraction by people who support the status quo, and we shouldn't be falling for it. If you support pornography, at least come out and support it (general "you").
And yes thank goodness we do already have a law against child pornography; and you seem to agree with me that the difficulties with enforcing it have nothing to do with whether we have it. I am just extending that argument to something else similar - highlighting that practical difficulties are neither here nor there when it suits you (again general you)

EldritchCleavage Fri 01-Mar-13 15:21:56

There is no impediment to enforcing a law against certain types of content (e.g. child pornography) on the internet except the degree of political and social will to do it.

So certain kinds of porn involving adults is also illegal. That could be extended, if we as a society wished it, and the providers of that content tracked down and prosecuted.

Writehand Fri 01-Mar-13 15:33:34

I think pornography is a free speech issue. I'm with the Icelandic campaigners. I have never understood why being a feminist should motivate me towards censorship. Porn is loaded word anyway. One person's porn is another person's art.

Sure, there's nasty porn out there, but the mechanisms and rulings that might allow banning it in terms of internet technology are far too complex and implementing such mechanisms would inevitably lead to far worse results in terms of civil liberties.

Incidentally, I was very disturbed to hear on the radio recently that it may be or become illegal to possess or create written fiction about sex with children. We're getting into the realms of thought crime. Possessing photos taken of a real abused child is undoubtedly a crime, and a grave one, but a story someone's written? The next thing would be that the authors of those super violent thrillers are guilty of crime too.

EldritchCleavage Fri 01-Mar-13 16:56:53

That's not new, Writehand: it's always been possible to prosecute even for fictional material under the Obscene Publications Act. The question is what, if anything, society deems has a tendency to corrupt and deprave (the legal test under the Act. Rightly or wrongly, probably the majority of British people would say even fictional accounts of sex with children would qualify.

Writehand Fri 01-Mar-13 16:59:15

It seems very dubious to me. Thought crime is a worrying idea.

slhilly Fri 01-Mar-13 17:06:32

Thoughts:
- the letter is poorly worded. I wonder if it's actually a translation from Icelandic?
- we live in an imperfect world. The pertinent question, to my mind, is whether the likely benefits and costs of trying to block outweight the benefits and harms of not blocking. Absolutist arguments don't cut any ice with me. Clearly, widespread porn is harmful. Clearly, too, the inevitable Type 1 and 2 errors in porn blocking software would also be harmful (false positives especially). And the risk of mission creep is significant and should not be sniffed at. We've seen mission creep the other direction after all.

I've not done the calculus of what I personally think is best.

Sausageeggbacon Fri 01-Mar-13 17:27:25

Curry the law would be one that can't be enforced and can't be policed. Assuming we are only talking 100,000 computers (Iceland being such a small Country) porn will only be found when computers are brought in for maintenance or if people inform. There is enough information splashed across the web to bypass any protocols put in by ISPs. Or do you suggest random spot checks? Where is the money coming from to fund the number of computer experts to be able to examine the computers.

Of course they can bring in the law but in practical terms it is as about as useful as the law that forbids MPs to wear armour in parliament (this may have retracted since 1999).

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 17:30:11

"Sure, there's nasty porn out there, but the mechanisms and rulings that might allow banning it in terms of internet technology are far too complex and implementing such mechanisms would inevitably lead to far worse results in terms of civil liberties."

In what way would it be far worse in terms of civil liberties and how is this inevitable?

slhilly Fri 01-Mar-13 17:55:15

The harms and potential harms are clear. A non-definitive list would certainly include:
- people will be denied access to non-porn sites that are wrongly banned (obvious examples are sex education sites for teens). Any list of banned sites will always carry errors, and the risks increase if many sites are being banned
- governments may expand banning beyond porn sites over time, for authoritarian reasons
- legitimate sites will be nobbled by people accusing them of containing banned material. We know this is very likely to happen in the UK, given how individuals and organisations have used libel laws
- legitimate sites may be nobbled by hackers uploading banned material
- people may be wrongly accused of accessing banned sites and end up with criminal records and personal disgrace

You'll have to judge whether the benefits outweigh these harms. But pretending they don't exist or they can all be mitigated is just refusing to engage with the facts. The same is true of people who pretend there are no harms with the status quo.

FloraFox Fri 01-Mar-13 18:15:29

Not sure why you think anyone is pretending the "harms" don't exist. I'm interested in why writehand (or anyone else) thinks those are more important than the benefit. I think that was pretty clear.

slhilly Fri 01-Mar-13 23:17:15

I think it because I don't see many posts talking in relative vs absolute terms

Trekkie Fri 01-Mar-13 23:39:46

Hello smile

I'm cutting in late at night, sorry, and not sober!

Interested to hear, off the back of my post yesterday:

"You see, if they said they thought it was unworkable, then I could understand that.
But if they thought it was unworkable, why bother writing letters about it

Does this freedom of speech in porniness extend to their wanting all porn of whatever nature to be freely available? Judging from their arguments I would say yes, but I imagine if you asked them how keen they would be on genuine total freedom of people to watch whatever they like, their answer would be somewhat different"

So. Please define what porn is AOK, important and necessary and what is illegal / abusive / wrong. TIA. And WHY the difference.

Trekkers smile

AuntieStella Sat 02-Mar-13 09:42:11

The laws against child pornography predated the Internet, and has some clear definitions, importantly a defined actual/apparent age. Also, there is greater international consensus and therefore co-operation in doing so. As noted by a poster above, even that narrowly defined subset of porn is nigh on impossible to police but there are efforts put in to doing so. A millions-of-agile-pages increase in what needs to be policed would be utterly unworkable.

And if you look at the Icelandic PM's statements on this, it is couched in terms of "We can put a man on the moon so we must be able to do this", which really does strike me as wishful thinking. They have commissioned a group to look at technical options, but short of a parallel net (like in North Korea or Iran) they'll find there aren't any. And that is why the initiative in the terms the PM is putting it to the public looks silly.

If however there is parallel work in defining unacceptable porn (required before any form of implementation can begin), this would be interesting. I would be particularly keen to see how created/manipulated images would be handled (there has been one UK prosecution against possessing such images, even though no actual child was involved, but IIRC the perpetrator also had actual images). And if Icelandic enforcement began with hard copy material (airport and home searches required?) then it would show the start of how a regime might work.

curryeater Sat 02-Mar-13 10:55:37

I don't know if there is any point asking this as there are so many people completely missing the point, but I would really like honest answers from you all to this question, which I will put as clearly as I can:

Do you think that the primary way to decide what activities are illegal or legal, unacceptable or acceptable, is to start from a position of deciding what would be easy or difficult to stop people doing?

Leithlurker Sat 02-Mar-13 13:46:01

It may not be people missing the point, it might be that in order to answer your question people are starting from a diffrent place curry eater. As Aunttie Stella said above we have a definition of child pornography and what is meant by sharing it.

We do not have a definition of what is pornography, would for example many of the sex education tools that show two consenting adults having sex be called porn, if not then a clear line between educational and recreational media needs defined. This in it's self would lead to further battles when it comes to LGBT educational tools. No one is saying it is impossible, but it is no where as simple as saying we do not like something so lets blanket ban it.

Leithlurker Sat 02-Mar-13 13:57:31

Just to add another thought, when the only medium for pornography was illuminated books hand drawn mostly by monks, these were not banned, they were subject to sever restriction mainly they were held in locked vaults owned by the church only available to "scholars". These books were known about by many people who were not given access, they were also used as ways to withhold knowledge and power from those that were not able to see them. In other words they became part of an establishment that saw knowledge and in particular the knowledge of sex and reproduction as only fit for a small number of people.

Before banning, even if it was possible, after all in this technology age its far harder to restrict access than when their was only a small number of books. It is necessarie to think through what actions will follow. For example by restricting access will the rights of women to demand their own choice of birth control be affected, not saying it will just an example based on the need for knowledge in order to make a choice.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 02-Mar-13 20:33:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Leithlurker Sat 02-Mar-13 20:43:38

And as others have pointed out you then need to find a way of telling the search engines what is educational, "dumb" computers just see words like sex, vagina, foreplay, as well as the the more pornified language and block access. The one solution might be, if it exists not sure it does, is to include a special code in the http that allows search engines to pick up on the educational nature. That solves one part of the puzzle maybe. But in terms of those resources being used as wank material which brings us back to objectionable views of women, then internet blocking is useless again. Plus unlike keeping books locked up under guard, it seems the one thing the digital age cannot give us is fool proof security.

curryeater Sat 02-Mar-13 21:37:31

no one has answered my question

WhentheRed Sat 02-Mar-13 22:52:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sausageeggbacon Sun 03-Mar-13 09:30:30

Curry the issue of policing the Internet is totally different to crimes as we normally understand them. So the issue is do you make laws because you want to? Fraud, theft, scamming are all illegal in the UK and cyber theft is a massive business. Considering how well it is policed don't you think it strange how rare it is you hear about arrests?

So we come to Iceland with the law they want to introduce, which is not going to be applied in any other Western Country at present. We have a technology that is relatively new and therefore does not have as many laws governing it. The aspect that Iceland want to affect is a contentious one simply because not everyone agrees with the stance and as the "first" Country to want to make this a crime you would think they would at least suggest how they are going to police it.

So should a law be passed without the ability to police it? I would take that on a case by case basis and not apply the same standards to every law. But it has given the Geek circles a good laugh as people are publishing so many ways to circumvent a law before it has even been passed.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 09:49:57

These arguments seems strange to me.

Certain types of porn are already illegal in many countries around the world.
The fact that it is impossible to stop people viewing them does not mean that these laws should be repealed.
In practice people are prosecuted after the event, when it is found that they have viewed certain images.
It would be the same, I imagine, in Iceland if this law were to pass.

Just because it is hard / impossible to stop supply, does not mean something should be legal. It is hard / impossible to stop supply of images of child rape, adult rape, sexual torture and so on. Do people want these things legalised?

Leithlurker Sun 03-Mar-13 11:26:04

Trekkie can you show where people have said they want to legalise already illegal things? You say that the onus would be on detecting that people have viewed porn in a country like Iceland if they were to pass those laws. Can you explain how you would detect that and so bring about prosecutions?

What would happen if the use of internet based porn by icelandic people was replaced by a huge upsurge of dvd, magazine, book, based media. Would owning porn be banned do you think?

Gigabot9k Sun 03-Mar-13 11:28:12

Something should only be banned if it is directly harming someone or abusing them. When 2 or more people consent to have sex on video, regardless of what others may think of it, then it should not be banned.

Censorship is often a dirty word because history has shown it is a slippery slope and the line between protection and freedom becomes blurred and easy to cross.

Those of us in the UK should be acutely aware of this, as we already have extremely abusive censorship in our press, with companies and people seeking out injunctions to "protect their privacy".

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/16/trafigura-african-pollution-disaster
"its lawyers repeatedly threatened anyone worldwide who sought to contradict its version. It launched a libel case against BBC Newsnight, forced an alleged correction from the Times, demanded the Guardian delete articles, and yesterday tried to gag journalists in the Netherlands and Norway with legal threats."

Be careful what you wish for. The great firewall of china is a real and looming prospect in the "free" world.

Today they will use the power of censorship to stop consenting adults from publicly displaying their sexual antics, but what will they do with this power in 10 years? What happens when the government changes hands and this power is available to them? What happens if there is a cultural shift in the population and this power is available to them? What happens when well read lawyers find ways to use this power to protect their clients wrong doings?

www.pressgazette.co.uk/node/44499
"Journalists in the UK enjoy less press freedom than those in 19 other countries including Estonia, Malta, Latvia and Lithuania, according to a survey released yesterday."

Imagine a world where Israel can demand that we don't display images of Palestinians being killed because "graphic content is bad for the peoples minds".

Or what if Government officials dodgy dealings cannot be reported because "it will undermine the government".

Just look at China. They banned porn too...
za.news.yahoo.com/china-porn-crackdown-225-sites-4k-channels-30k-040050986.html

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 11:52:45

If the argument is that it is not possible to regulate what people view on the internet, then that argument surely applies to anything viewed on the internet. That is the only logical conclusion.

Incidentally people can and have been prosecuted for things that they have seen / done on the internet, so it's not even a particularly valid argument.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 11:57:00

The definition of porn in the post above is the funniest one I have heard I think!

"Today they will use the power of censorship to stop consenting adults from publicly displaying their sexual antics".

That sounds like people having sex with people they want to have sex with in the middle of the high street just because they feel like it!

Incidentally consenting adults publicly displaying their sexual antics IS in fact illegal in, I'm sure, every country on the planet grin

Surely a better definition of porn would be people engaging in sexual activity, in order to sexually arouse others, in return for money.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 13:02:47

So it's not porn if the participants aren't paid? confused

Gigabot9k Sun 03-Mar-13 16:26:15

"Incidentally consenting adults publicly displaying their sexual antics IS in fact illegal in, I'm sure, every country on the planet"

I was referring to people distributing videos of them having sex with each other.

However, I wouldn't actually be against people displaying sexual acts in public as long as it was kept discreet.

Perhaps you'd like to outlaw kissing in public? What about displaying breasts for breast feeding? Why not go the whole hog and make men and women cover themselves head to toe when in public?

Trouble with your attitude is that you assume that "displaying sexual antics" is considered the same thing by all people. It's not.

One country might use this kind of censorship to ban typical western pornography as we see it, yet another group may consider women revealing their stomachs to be sexual and suggestive, and ban any picture of a woman who isn't fully clothed head to toe.

The reason why things like SlutWalk can happen, with women displaying their breasts in public, is because people have fought off this kind of prudish censorship, and they want sex to be considered just sex, no shame, no victim status.

Imagine if Ireland took this same stance on censorship and banned any pro-abortion literature from being viewed on the internet because it "corrupts the people". Suddenly this kind of censorship looks a lot more frightening.

Censorship needs to be fought, because it is a slippery slope to loss of freedom of expression.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:33:24

Are you seriously advocating sex in public places?

It's an interesting proposition, but not one that would garner much interest, I think. Many groups of people would feel very uncomfortable about people copulating around the place.

OLKN I think the primary definition of porn is that it is produced with the intention of sexually arousing someone. However the vast vast majority of people who are recorded are paid. "Amateur" porn is often not actually amateur at all - it's set up to mimic genuine amateur porn. From the same perspective not all porn involves people having sex - some porn involves things that others find sexually arousing but don't involve sex. Still as a starting point I think that my definition will catch most of it - was just off the top of my head and is surely a better definition than "people having consensual sex in public" which is a totally different ballgame and to me sounds more like dogging.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 16:39:14

I agree that the primary function of porn is to sexually arouse, but the problem with that as a "definition" is, as you also say, that what one person might find sexually arousing, another person might find revolting, and a third person be completely unmoved.

We simply don't have a definition of what porn actually is. And I'm not sure we could ever agree one, let alone write surefire software that could use that definition to block porn, and only porn.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:41:08

Then there are all the people who are flimed without knowing it and end up on bluetube etc. They are not paid obviously but personally I think it is a pretty appalling thing to happen to someone. Especially if they are unconscious when what has been flimed is a rape and they are featured quite prominently on the main free porn sites.

I guess if the pornsites aren't going to filter out illegal stuff then you can understand where Iceland are coming from.

Has anyone got a link to the reaosning behind their proposals?

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:42:13

No I don't think you could block it at the mo. But I do think that some stuff is illegal at the moment, and people are prosecuted when they are found to have used it, and so Iceland could follow that direction if they were so inclined.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:30:15

So I had a look to see what the proposal in Iceland actually is from here:

"Gunnarsdottir says the proposals being drawn up by a committee of experts will not introduce new restrictions, but simply uphold an existing if vaguely worded law.

Pornography is already banned in Iceland, and has been for decades, but the term is not defined so the law is not enforced. Magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are on sale in bookshops, and more hard-core material can be bought from a handful of sex shops. "Adult" channels form part of digital TV packages.

Iceland's left-of-centre government insists it is not setting out to sweep away racy magazines or censor sex. The ban would define pornography as material with violent or degrading content.

Gunnarsdottir said the committee was exploring the details of how a porn ban could be enforced. One possibility would be to make it illegal to pay for porn with Icelandic credit cards. Another, more controversial, route would be a national internet filter or a list of website addresses to be blocked."

So they are looking to uphold their existing laws wrt internet content.
And this has triggered people into writing protest letters?
That's just weird.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:36:00

"Violent or degrading" content. Does violence include consensual smacking? And "degrading" is a bit subjective, it's on the same lines as earlier and intending to cause sexual arousal.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:42:29

You'd need to look at the Icelandic law and what they allow to be sold legally at the moment and what they don't, OLKN.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:45:13

From what you posted, it looks as if no porn is legal atm, but because the term hasn't been defined, it's still sold. We're back to that definition thing again.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:47:41

Seems like what they actually want to do is relax the existing laws on porn, then, and enforce the new law.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:49:25

So not sure why people are in a pickle about it.

Seems to me that maybe people think that if something is available that means it is legal? I suppose the availability has undermined people's understanding of what is actually allowed and what is not. certainly we have laws against obscene publications in the UK and much on the net would not pass. We could start prosecuting people if we wished.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:52:31

Looks as if it may all be hot air and waffle anyway. Also from your link, "They may also run out of time. Iceland is due to hold parliamentary elections in April, and the unpopular coalition government could be thrown out."

Back to the drawing board, then.

Saying that the argument is about should/should not rather than could/could not is missing the overlapping issues.

Basically you probably could block porn, the problem is that you wouldn't just block porn. And that's where civil liberties come into it. To block porn you'd need to block other things too (due to the technology actually available) which isn't on. Partly it isn't on because some of the things that would probably end up blocked are quite important (eg. sex education) and partly because, if it was a govt/legal/centralised thing, it would be very open to abuse.

So the letter isn't saying, "it isn't possible" because it is but not safely/effectively/morally.

If the technology existed to block porn and only porn, then the argument would be moot.

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 18:01:55

It's simply untrue to say that it's not possible to define porn. There are a number of possible definitions that have been used at different times and in different places. The legislative process is well capable of determining a definition for our time and place.

In relation to censorship, we currently have a fair amount of it in the UK. We have the British Film Classification Board, Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority, the PCC, hate speech, libel and privacy laws and we will soon have a new Leveson regulator (maybe). What is so special about porn that it should be protected from legislation?

There is no evidence that porn is some sort of litmus test for the protection of free speech. The slippery slope argument is frankly laughable.

As for harm and violence, we also do not permit people to consent to violence, e.g. domestic violence. You cannot consent to working in an unsafe environment. We are entitled to look at harm to society in making laws and we are entitled to look at the context of consent. We do this also by looking at harm vs benefit. We rarely hear pro-porn advocates set out what they think is the actual benefit of porn. Not surprising really.

Flora When we are talking about porn wrt computers you need to be able to define it in such a way that computers can differentiate. And that means keywords. So what words would you use to filter out porn?

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 18:21:10

Murder I'm not writing the legislation on this thread. It's not just keywords, image analysis is already used on the Internet.

It's not as if porn is hidden on the web. Much of it is being actively pushed through spam emails and SEO.

If you're concerned about civil liberties, you might consider looking at the increasing amount of surveillance and information pooling we are subjected to. And what about secret courts FFS! Those are real issues affecting civil liberties and freedoms.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 18:37:00

Flora don't forget that in the UK in addition to the bodies you mention we have the obscene publications act, which is to do with regulating explicit material. Reading this thread it would seem that some people are not aware of that.

Just because you can look at it on the net, doesn't make it legal, folks.

Image analysis? Do you know how flawed that is? I've heard that they have software which will flag up images where the picture has a high percentage of flesh tones so something like this would be flagged up, or this.

So, yes, you could use it to block porn, but it would block stuff like those links. And it wouldn't block porn that was in b&w or sepia tinted.

"If you're concerned about [this] then why don't you worry about [that]?"

Who says I don't? Caring about one thing doesn't mean that I can't care about another.

And actually you've made a very valid point wrt porn being actively pushed. If someone wants to push porn then they will find a way around whatever filters. Eg. if you are going by fleshtones they'll use b&w, if you are using keywords like "tits" then they'll make sure to only use keywords like "kitten" - which is far worse as it's then even more likely to be seen by children.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 20:17:05

At the moment people are prosecuted if they are found to have viewed banned material.

Do you agree with that approach.

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 20:58:40

I'm not saying you can't care about two things. I'm saying one has a real impact on civil liberties and the other (porn) doesn't.

I'm amazed at how defeatist people are about "well you can't stop it so you might as well not try" although it usually coincides with a generally pro-porn position. It also totally does not take into account that a very significant amount of casual access would be blocked by the easiest measures.

Most companies have imperfect but generally fairly effective screening measures. If you need to access something genuine, you can make adjustments for that. It's really not that hard if the will is there. The problem is that the will is not there.

"I'm amazed at how defeatist people are about "well you can't stop it so you might as well not try" although it usually coincides with a generally pro-porn position. It also totally does not take into account that a very significant amount of casual access would be blocked by the easiest measures. "

The easiest measures? Really? And what would those be exactly?

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 21:17:15

At the moment in the UK people can be and sometimes are prosecuted for viewing certain types of material. Would you seek to change that?

If it is very hard to catch people doing something, does that mean it should be legal?

Just a couple of things to think about.

I'm finding this thread really confusing, however, having read the article linked to in the OP and following a link from there to another article, I have found this:

Web filters, blocked addresses and making it a crime to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography, are among the plans being devised by internet and legal experts.

Am I right in thinking the thread is about whether this is a good idea or not?

The credit card thing is workable, the rest isn't really, unless we want something akin to the great firewall of China (where everybody just uses proxy servers anyway). I wish it was possible and workable, but it just isn't. I've already posted the following on another thread today, I think it's relevant here, although I may have got completely the wrong end of this thread, as I say, I'm finding it quite confusing ...

I'm not sure Kaloki's around any more but the post below clearly explains the problems with this proposal. If you're still reading, Kaloki, thanks once again for your excellent post ...

------------------------------------

*KalokiMallow Thu 23-Dec-10 18:59:06*

I apologise in advance, this is probably going to be a long post, but if you are interested in the technical reasons why filtering porn cannot work, then you really should read it.

Anatomy of a website

Domain
The domain is the address you type in.
Eg. www.mumsnet.com
This is actually separate to the website itself, which is why you can have multiple domain names pointed to the same site.

Say you wanted to block www.mumsnet.com you wouldn't necessarily be blocking access to the website itself. As they could then just set up www.mumsnetisback.com without having to change where it is hosted or reload content.

You also could block domain names with keywords in the title, say you blocked "mumsnet", however this wouldn't block www.mummsnet.com - which could easily be pointed at the same site.

So that wouldn't work for filtering websites, too easy to get around.

Hosting
A website is hosted on rented or bought server space, you could block the IP address for a server, which is what the domain name points to. This is about the only way to block websites, but requires you individually blocking each website.

An ISP provides access to the internet, whether for a user or server, some have their own servers which they host sites on. But not all do. Hosting and providing net access are two different things.

URL
Essentially the same as the domain name, but with directions to specific pages or files.
Eg. www.mumsnet.com/Talk

You could block specific pages within a website, either by keyword or knowing the address. However you'd have to somehow take into account embedded information;
The web standard style of coding websites nowadays usually runs along the lines of;
Main page
¬ Header
¬ Content
¬ Footer

So while you may have blocked "main page", you haven't blocked "header", "content" and "footer", and if someone was to direct link to one of them..

Meta Data
Hidden information coded into webpages, usually keywords and a description. Not all sites bother with this though.

So although you could search the meta data for keywords and block pages where the meta keywords are to be filtered, if someone hasn't entered meta data then the computer will have no way of knowing.

HTML/Coding
Keywords could also be in the coding. This will include the text you see on the page. You could block pages with blocked keywords, however, read on to see why that is flawed.

Images
There are only two way to block images.
1) Block any images that are inserted using the <img src= /> code. Which will block 99% of images. 99% of all images that is. Including the MN logo at the top of your page.
2) Block images with filtered keywords, but this has the same problem as meta data, it doesn't have to be filled in. And the image file could be 111111.jpg. With no keyword data, you have no clue of that is a pornographic image or a pretty little flower.

There is no technology that exists that can identify what an unlabelled, generically titled image is either.

Embedded Media
Exactly the same as Images. This covers embedded video, interactive flash and audio.

Different filtering methods

Keywords
You could block keywords. But what keywords would you block for porn?

Penis? Vagina? Breast?
- there goes any website that mentions anatomy in any way, say medical websites...

Pussy?
- so no personal pages about Ginger the cat.

Porn? Erotica?
- There goes this page, and a large part of the feminism forum.

Do any of you have spam filters on your email? Does that work all of the time?
Do you ever get emails asking if you'd like to purchase v1agra?

That's the other way to get round keyword filters, just type things wrong or leave sp aces in them. You could even add in sym|3ols.

Also, if you wanted text but didn't want it searchable then you'd just use an image file with the text on and not label the image file. Easy.

So to summarise. You can block individual IP addresses, one by one - but hang on, how would you implement this? Who'd decide? Do you create a central agency to decide? Or do you leave it up to the public to report?

If you leave it up to the public do you immediately filter any reported sites to look at when someone gets a chance? Or do you wait? Could get a few complaints when sites aren't removed promptly enough? Say you decide that you will only filter a site when it has a set number of complaints? What happens when a large group of internet users decide it would be amusing to all report one site at once?

And would you block the page with the content, or the whole site? What if someone posted a pornographic picture on flickr, do you filter all of flickr?

If you use keywords to block sites then you will block innocent websites.

There's also a flaw with opting in. Say it's a family network, (because remember, the ISP's can't distinguish between separate computers) and one person wants to opt in (possibly because the filter system has blocked a website which isn't actually pornographic) then how do you protect the children?? Oh yeah, a computer based filter. One which can be set up not only for individual computers, but also for individual user accounts on one computer.

And you can set it up to block or not block exactly what you want! How exciting!

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 21:54:46

I thought the thread was about a bunch of people writing to the government of a country that they don't live in, to say that the concept of a ban on pornographic material with violent or degrading content was an affront to the basic principles of society.

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 21:57:39

yy Trekkie

PLenty 'Tis me, Kaloki in disguise <waves> Quite proud to see my essay post being referred to blush

Trekkie The problem is, in the case of that letter, you can't talk about it without taking into account the fact that a filter that stopped all pornography would also go against civil liberties. That doesn't mean that access to pornography is a civil liberty and shouldn't be blocked, it means that a porn filter would be highly likely to block things that are civil liberties.

So the concept of banning porn is an affront to basic principles of society, not because of the porn, but because of the collateral damage.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 23:22:05

But from the things I could find on google that is not what they are suggesting.

What they are suggesting is a revision of their existing porn laws, to criminalise pornography with violent or degrading content. They have not said (as far as I can find out) how they will impliment that or even if it is possible.

In the UK we have a law (the obscene publications law) which says similar.

Do you want that law repealed?

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 23:53:32

I don't agree that the letter was only objecting to the collateral damage on non-porn related civil liberties. It's quite clearly addressing porn as a civil liberty in itself. The third quote in the OP puts forward that the porn would be worse if there was an attempt to regulate it confused

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 00:18:38

this article sets out the proposal and the reason for it as far as I can find so far

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 04-Mar-13 00:45:07

That's an interesting and informative article, Trekkie, and points out that this is still in the "Is this a Good Idea?" stage. But again, it talks about "violent and degrading" porn, who decides that? And how do you tell a computer?

Yay! Pleased to see you're still about Kaloki/Murder smile

curryeater Mon 04-Mar-13 10:22:44

"But it has given the Geek circles a good laugh..."

Glad to hear it. Glad that geeks find it so funny that some people are trying to protect people.

This sentence really sums something up for me. A real complete point-missing, a bizarre and head-fucking system of values.
It seems to me that the human aspect of what this law is trying to do is completely missing from this giggling, sneering view-point, which is childishly glorifying the skills that can keep making and promoting ugly and cruel things despite the attempts to stop them.

Whose side are you on? Do you somehow identify with pornographers as underdogs or something, as opposed to The Man who makes laws? Get fucking real.

I don't see why we have to accept cruelty and degradation of women as mainstream and inevitable. I don't see why so few of you are prepared to think properly about whose interests this is in.

Still very few people have given a straight answer to my question of Saturday 10.55:

Do you think that the primary way to decide what activities are illegal or legal, unacceptable or acceptable, is to start from a position of deciding what would be easy or difficult to stop people doing?

One person did, and she said, clearly "no". I agree. Those who are implying "yes" won't come out and say it because it will expose them as ethically fucked.

Timetoask Mon 04-Mar-13 10:31:15

I think it's sad that there are (stupid) women out there who have such little self worth that instead of earning money doing something useful, prefer to expose themselves, denigrate themselves.

However, it is their problem.

I would be really pleased to see a ban on pornography (printed or online) because I really worry about the impact it is having on your children and teenagers. It is too easy to access currently.

"Whose side are you on? Do you somehow identify with pornographers as underdogs or something, as opposed to The Man who makes laws? Get fucking real. "

I want to protect children (and adults) from porn, but I'm aware that a govt dictated porn block will not work and will not protect anyone.

"Do you think that the primary way to decide what activities are illegal or legal, unacceptable or acceptable, is to start from a position of deciding what would be easy or difficult to stop people doing?"

No, obviously. But as I say on all of these threads, the porn block will not work. But there is a solution to protect the children, one that I support fully.

Parental control software installed on individual computers alongside education about how to use it, education on other harmful stuff on the net (pro-anorexia, grooming, etc) and what other steps can be taken.

So there is something that can be done, it's in the hands of the parents and it exists already.

That's the side I'm on. The side which can make a difference right now and which works, rather than the side which is asking for technology that doesn't exist.

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 19:27:11

Timetoask there are many reasons that women go to work in the porn industry. They are myriad and tied up in all sorts of things to do with society, background, opportunity, money, and so on, thousands of reasons.

To simply say they are "stupid" is not on.

If you are anti-porn and want to focus on the "bad guys" then the people who make it, the people who consume it and the general structure in society which deems it acceptable would be better places to start than the performers.

Do you think that the primary way to decide what activities are illegal or legal, unacceptable or acceptable, is to start from a position of deciding what would be easy or difficult to stop people doing?

No. I'd like to see porn banned because it harms women, both the women involved in its production and women as a class and because it fucks up men's sexuality.

Happy?

Where do we go from here? Do you have any workable ideas beyond us all saying 'down with this sort of thing'?

"Where do we go from here? Do you have any workable ideas beyond us all saying 'down with this sort of thing'?"

I always wonder that.

And it seems appropriate to re-post this. Replace "unicorn" with "block porn".

"I want to travel by unicorn!"
"They don't exist"
"Someday there might be technology available to create one!"
"Um.. well, yes.. possibly.."
"So I want one now!"
"But the technology doesn't actually exist right now"
"It should do"
"Well.. yes, maybe.."
"So get me a unicorn!"
"We can't."
"But you should."
"How?"
"I don't know, there should be experts working on it"
"There probably are"
"See? So my unicorn is possible!"
"No.. it's potentially possible, not actually possible"
"You are just being negative"
"No, I'm being factual"
"You hate unicorns!"
"What?"
"Unicorn hater!"
"..uh..."
"You aren't even trying to help!"
"I.. uh.. buh.. "
"Where's your solution?"
"My solution? You want the bloody unicorn, I'm happy with all the many other methods of transport"
"No, I refuse to even try other methods. A unicorn is the only solution!"
"But they don't exist. You can't will them into existence"
"Excuses excuses"
"It's not an excuse, it's reality. Look, you can have a horse. They do exactly the same thing but without costing loads in research and implementation"
"No. Unicorn."
"Why not a horse?"
"A unicorn just sounds better"
"But creating a unicorn could be massively flawed, the horse has evolved to where it is now. It's does the job more than adequately"
"A unicorn might be better"
"It might. But we don't know this for certain."
"See, I was right. You said yourself it has some advantages"
"It has a lot of disadvantages. Oh and it's still not possible right now. In fact it may never be possible"
"You are so negative! Wont you think of the children??"

FloraFox Mon 04-Mar-13 22:01:34

What nonsense. The thread is about the preposterous letter claiming that the right to access porn is an important civil liberty and that attempts to regulate porn will lead to a dangerous unregulated porn industry. Some of these responses "UNICORNZ! It's all about UNICORNZ" are a little odd to say the least.

curryeater Mon 04-Mar-13 22:12:00

"But creating a unicorn could be massively flawed, the horse has evolved to where it is now. It's does the job more than adequately"

You see, this is it. Stop pretending you are worried about where the unicorns* are going to come from when actually you don't want them, and you are fine with the horse.

I am not fine with the status quo.

*pathetic, stupid analogy, because a unicorn is a mythical beast, whereas societally agreed and legally enforced boundaries on what can be done to human beings and what sort of media is acceptable exist in abundance

Trekkie Mon 04-Mar-13 22:23:47

I think it is extremely unfair to demand that the OP single-handedly come up with a solution to the global industry of misogynistic porn.

The feminism section is here for debate and discussion. Telling a woman that because she can't personally explode a multi-billion dollar industry she shouldn't post her thoughts here is shitty. The point of posting here is so that women can think about these topics without being told to shut up. If you don't agree with someone then tell them you don't agree with them, don't try to silence them. I'm a bit shocked TBH. We talk about all sorts on here and the idea that people shouldn't be allowed to discuss things unless they have a solution for them is awful. If people had solutions for all this stuff we wouldn't need feminism would we.

curry We appear to be talking at cross purposes.

The unicorn is an analogy for a centralised govt controlled effective porn filter.
The horse is an analogy for localised filters applied to individual computers by parents.

The centralised govt controlled effective porn filter is basically a mythical beast. It doesn't exist. And there is no current technology to make it exist. Like a mythical beast it's a lovely thought, and lots of people want to believe in it, but that doesn't make it realistic.

flora Have you read the letter? Because I don't think it's saying what you think it's saying.

I've just read it, and the gist of it is actually that censoring the whole countries internet access as one is not actually a great idea. Not because they think people should be allowed to view porn, but because it could and probably would restrict access to other things. This is a quote from the open letter,

"It is technically impossible to censor content delivered over the Internet without monitoring all telecommunications. Not just unwanted communications or inappropriate material, everything must be examined automatically by unsupervised machines which make the final decision on whether to allow the content to continue or not. This level of government surveillance directly conflicts with the idea of a free society."

Does that translate to "we want to see the pornz"? No, it doesn't.

How about this paragraph?

"Internet censorship is used by totalitarian regimes in order to restrict people's access to various information and material on the internet. The methods used to conduct this censorship are technically identical to the methods that would be employed by Iceland if these plans were to be implemented. The act of censoring pornography in Iceland differs in no way from repression of speech in Iran, China or North Korea. By stating that Iceland is considering censoring pornographic material on the Internet for moral reasons, they are justifying rather than condemning the actions of totalitarian regimes."

Are you seeing requests for access to porn? Or are you seeing an explanation of why filtering the internet is dodgy ground?

"If the Icelandic Government worries about children getting their sexual education from pornography on the Internet, the solution should be better sex education in the home or through schools. Sex education that deals not only with conception, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, but also relationships, communication and respect."

Oh look a helpful solution that would benefit the children. And yet they are being painted as being pro-porn and against children..

"There exist decentralized technical measures that respect the rights and dignity of all citizens in a society which involves aiding families with providing an accessible way to make their own computer and internet access secure for their children"

And there we go with that whole pesky educating people to use technology that already exists. How horrible are they?

Some of the sentences, taken out of context, could be taken to mean they wanted loads of porn access for everybody, but if you read the whole thing you will see that all they are saying is that a centralised porn filter would not work and could well be detrimental and that there are better alternatives.

Which is exactly what we've been saying on this thread.

Telling a woman that because she can't personally explode a multi-billion dollar industry she shouldn't post her thoughts here is shitty.

Yes, that would indeed be shitty if anyone was actually doing that.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 18:24:18

Murder yes I have read the letter - I would have thought that was obvious since I wrote the OP. I think your interpretation is strained, particularly in light of the last quote from the OP.

The very last quote is not the main thrust of the argument, instead it is in addition and makes the point that prohibition type actions actually tend to have the opposite affect to what is intended. Which is true.

The majority of the letter talks about the technology not existing, and the only way it could currently exist is by using a system put in place by the kinds of govts that it would be best not to emulate. It also talks about solutions that could work, eg. education.

The reason I asked is because you've somehow missed all of those points. And then done so again when I've copied them out for you.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 18:48:00

I didn't miss the points. I don't agree with them.

You said upthread: "Basically you probably could block porn, the problem is that you wouldn't just block porn. And that's where civil liberties come into it. To block porn you'd need to block other things too (due to the technology actually available) which isn't on."

This is it. I don't agree it's not on.

Also, technology develops to meet demands, it does not develop in an abstract.

The last point is important because it is clear what the perspective of the writers is. And it is staggering in it's illogicality. Still, feel free to say it's true if you wish.

Leithlurker Tue 05-Mar-13 19:03:40

Murderof Goths I love your Unicorn story, it is so true of those who imagine that becouse something sounds possible it should happen. In a sense if Oppenheimer had stopped at "yes we can build a nuclear bomb" but then went on to say "However it's not a good idea" the world would be different from what it is.

Flora. At last you have come out and said exactly what I suspected you were saying, this whole thread has been a pretence to talk about banning porn. NOT the letter, nor even if it is possible or not. Just the straightforward banning of all porn as identified by you? Or some other individual who like you has failed to engage with the difficulties of doing just that.

I will say what I said on a thread about banning page three, if you think banning something will stop people thinking thoughts that you would rather they did not have, go ahead but don't complain when you find you cannot actualy control peoples thoughts.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 19:24:14

Leithlurker if it's taken you this long to figure out I don't agree with the letter - biscuit

Ok, so you think it is absolutely ok to block other things alongside porn?

And you think technology is going to be able to keep up with these demands?

Right, so first thing to understand is that computers don't think. They will only do what you tell them, and they do it exactly, and they can't do any more than that.

So if you want to filter porn you need to tell computers what they need to block. And you need to tell them in terms they can understand. Eg. give them a list of keywords.

A computer will not understand the same definition of porn that you and I do. You can't tell a computer to "block anything that shows sexual content in a manner intended to arouse", it wouldn't be able to make sense of that. A computer doesn't get aroused, nor does it understand arousal, so it cannot look at something and think "this is intended to be arousing". A computer has to rely on solid bits of information.

On the internet that information is mostly words. So here's method one.

So you can tell it to "block any website with the word "porn" on it". And that'd work just fine.

Except it would block MN because we've talked about porn on it.
It would block websites set up to fight against porn.
It would block websites set up to help people get away from the porn industry.

That's ok with you?

But of course porn isn't the only word you'd need to block. You'd also need to block words like sex, penis, vagina, even pussy.

Still ok?

And I mean it wouldn't take much for the porn sites to just change the words they use.

On to method two

You could also block websites individually. So estimates from the beginning of 2012 put the number of web addresses at 233 million. It's being added to daily. In the first quarter of 2012 there were 7.5 million added.

So we're going to keep up with those how exactly? (See method one for why computers couldn't do it automatically)

Or method three

Again using web addresses, but instead of a black list you have a white list. So the govt decides which websites we are allowed to look at. That ok with you?

So yes, you could block porn but you'd block a huge chunk of the internet (possibly the majority) and it would involve blocking websites with advice and support relating to sex education and sexual health.

Still sound good to you?

So when they say blocking porn would involve infringing civil rights they are totally right.

As for technology keeping up? The day we invent a computer that can think and feel, sure. I can't see that happening any time soon. In addition there's a huge moral maze related to that.

Leithlurker Tue 05-Mar-13 19:35:33

Flora, I was affording you the courtesy of not presuming that you were advocating a big brother type state that deny's freedom of thought. But apparently you do so take your biscuit and place it where the sun is not likely to ever see it.

Murder I fear as well explained as your last was, it will be wasted as clearly the ideaology of thought control is in play not a rational exploration as to how to acheive a goal.

Leith I'll keep explaining until I'm blue in the face, because even if I can't get through to the OP others will be reading. So it's worth it.

Leithlurker Tue 05-Mar-13 19:43:11

You are right Murder, you are much more patient than I, more power to you.

Tbh I have a screaming, teething baby on my lap. Arguing about tech is far less frustrating wink

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 19:54:42

Murder the reason I'm not interested in discussing technology on this thread is because this thread is anonymous. We can discuss the principles of feminism and free speech without presenting our cv. I'm not interested in discussing the ins and outs of the technology with an anonymous person because I'm not willing to identify myself and I don't know what level of knowledge or understanding you have of the topic. You call it "explaining", thanks, but I can ask my milkman for an explanation and it would be as authoritative as yours.

Leithlurker thought control? Now you're just being silly. Have another biscuit

Right, so you want a thread to talk about a form of technology but no actual technological talk?

Well in that case I would love a centralised porn filter. Even if it is totally impossible.

But what I'd love more is better education about what is out there that enables people to protect themselves and their children.

I'm all for banning page 3. There are no technical problems with that, it would be easy peasy and should be done asap.

You're right, Leith, you can't control people's thoughts, but people's thoughts and attitudes are formed within a culture so if the culture changes, people's thoughts and attitudes will change.

Nothing else in our culture is quite as effective as page 3 in encouraging people to think it's completely normal and A-OK to objectify women.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 20:21:11

Murder I don't want the thread to talk about a form of technology, the point was to talk about the position that porn is a civil liberty in itself and that regulating porn would lead to an unregulated porn industry. I think it's quite clear from the quotes I included that that's what I'm talking about. You have a different view of the positions put forward by the writers of the letter, that's fine.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 20:39:32

I find the ignorance of the OP laughable really. My DP used to work in this exact field and I've had to listen to him going on at length about why these and the various other crackpot schemes put forward by clueless politicians are a bit off.

The reason why the technology community holds the Icelandic proposals in such contempt is that they recognise the futility of them as well as the implications for freedom of speech that they carry.

When the same people who created the internet tell you that such plans are both unworkable and dangerous (whether those plans be for stopping people browsing for porn or copyrighted movies) then its probably a good idea to listen to them.

Governments lack the ability and means to identify and block something as straightforward and easy defined as copyright infringement - how on earth do you think they'll manage with something as woolly as "porn"?

Other than that, I can't really add anything more than MurderOfGoths already has.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 21:00:50

So an anonymous poster whose information is based on her or his anonymous OP who used to work in this exact field (whatever that is) thinks my ignorance is laughable.

Whether the plans are unworkable is a technical issue that I'm not interested in discussing on an anonymous forum

Whether they are "dangerous" is a political issue and I certainly don't place the views of IT engineers above the views of anyone else.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 21:27:00

Well the exact field in this case was capacity management for one of the largest ISPs in the UK.

But its not just little old me and what I've picked up over the years - its the business and technical leaders of the technology industry - Bruce Schneier, Jimmy Wales, David Ulevitch, Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky are a couple I know of just from what my DP has said.

For every single reputable technical authority you find who considers what the Icelandic government are planning to be achievable and realistic (and from what I gather you'll struggle to find one) I'll wager I'll find a hundred who say they're barking.

"I certainly don't place the views of IT engineers above the views of anyone else."

And that pretty much sums it up. You're the telling an engineer that his engine must do 100mph when the same engineer is telling you it can only do 70mph.

What the Icelandic government propose, as the US government did with SOPA and as the BPI is finding out to its cost is fundamentally a technical issue by its very definition. One that you plainly not only lack the knowledge to understand but seemingly don't want to either.

"the point was to talk about the position that porn is a civil liberty in itself"

Except no one has said it is. None of us, and not the letter you linked to.

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 21:46:19

If it makes you feel any better Flora, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're trying to discuss. I also understand what those posters with technical expertise are saying: they don't think a central ban is technically possible to implement at the moment. Thanks, that's interesting and relevant to a debate on whether such a proposal could be enforced.

But my take on it is this: that while we're all concerned, legitimately, with children's access to harmful images, what Flora wants to discuss is why very few people seem to care, even a little bit, about the consequences for society of porn that emphasises arousing men by humiliating, subjugating and degrading women.

Why isn't this considered important enough to even discuss? And actually, I'm not anti porn per se, if it were simply about consenting adults getting off (and I mean both / all participants in it for mutual pleasure, not just as objects for predominantly male fantasy) then I'd have no problem with its availability to other consenting adults.

I think the problem with the discussion about a centralised porn filter is that there is a tendency for people to treat anyone who finds serious technical issues in the plan as if they are pro-porn and happy to stomp all over the emotional wellbeing of children. Which not only misses the point but also seems to be a way of demonising valid arguments.

I suspect that I can speak quite reliably for the majority of people who are against the porn filter when I say we'd be totally in support of it if it fulfilled all of the following criteria;

- it blocked porn and only porn
- it could be adapted by different users in the same household (eg. children would see less content than teens)
- it could not be abused by those in charge of it (eg. deleting views they disagree with)
- there was a way to block individual pages/images on some sites rather than whole sites (eg. community led websites like youtube)
- effort was put into educating people on the other dangers faced online (eg. pro-ana sites, grooming)

But as technology cannot do this right now we are understandably more interested in the ways that children etc can be protected right now.

And yet somehow saying this we are portrayed as being pro-porn. It's very frustrating. And it's what the unicorn analogy has come from.

We've been trying to point out actually realistic solutions which are available now, and are complained at for not supporting an unrealistic solution.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 22:16:33

"We've been trying to point out actually realistic solutions which are available now, and are complained at for not supporting an unrealistic solution."

Indeed. And for what its worth, the "filter" in my house is me (and my DP of course). I don't expect, nor want the government, my ISP or god forbid some Mumsnet keyboard warrior dictating what content I can and cannot view. There are far more nasty things on line that I want to keep away from my kids than porn (again, define "porn") - most of which wouldn't be impacted by a filter anyway.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 22:16:46

Murder as I said, I disagree with your interpretation of the letter. Laurie Penny, who was one of the authors, has expressed many times that she is pro-porn. Leithlurker seemed to be going there with his "thought control" nonsense. Lots of people actually do believe that and by repeatedly making any discussion all about technology, which it isn't, you are ignoring the political aspects of this issue.

Beanie no I'm not. Read again. I'm talking about politics.

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 22:18:25

Not making any assumptions about any of the 'technical' focused posters' opinions on porn. Interested to know your opinions on why discussions about some porn's negative effect on women (labouring under the assumption that we all think children + porn = nothing good) move very swiftly to information about why it can't be blocked.

It's pertinent, sure, but it can also serve, perhaps unintentionally, to shut down debate.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 22:25:02

PMQ yes quite.

I don't think a lot of posters do necessarily have technical expertise. There's a lot of repetition of other published views.

Beanie you're happy to live in a country where children can easily access hard core violent porn via simple (and sometimes inadvertant) google searches because you think you can protect your own children from it. And it's more important to you that you can continue to access whatever you want to see regardless of the impact on other people.

It might surprise you to know that there are already laws that dictate what you can and cannot view.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 22:28:00

"I'm talking about politics."

But as has been pointed out to repeatedly - talk of blocking specific content on the internet is is fundamentally a technical issue. One that you obviously lack the knowledge to discuss.

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 22:38:05

I think that Flora and latterly I are interested in discussing the political and societal aspects of this Icelandic proposal and the subsequent letter. Other posters think the nuts and bolts of "the real world" are more relevant.

I think both perspectives have value and am a bit tired of nuts and boltsers trying to shut down people who want to think a bit critically (maybe even with a big C) and not simply accept commonly held assumptions and beliefs just because they are commonly held.

Note that I do grasp the technicalities of the challenge and do not think practicalities are unimportant, but if we are only ever allowed to think in terms of what is, now, then nothing will ever be different.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 22:39:12

No, the ability to block specific content is a technical one. Whether technology should be pursued that currently does this or may be capable of being developed to do so is a political issue.

I'm not interested in discussing technical issues with DPs of people who work in capacity management or anyone else who is anonymous. I could tell you I'm Larry Page, would that make any difference?

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 22:39:28

It's not "just" a technical issue. Some of the issues are technical, some are not.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 22:40:00

Sorry, my "no" was at Beanie not PQW

yy PQW

"Interested to know your opinions on why discussions about some porn's negative effect on women (labouring under the assumption that we all think children + porn = nothing good) move very swiftly to information about why it can't be blocked. "

In this case it is because the letter referenced in the OP talks about the technical difficulties and technical objections to a filter.

The letter isn't minimising the effect of porn on women, children or anyone. It doesn't even mention it. It talks about the technical side. That's why we're talking about the technical side.

If the OP had instead talked about the effect of porn on people then there'd be no reason to bring up technical issues (unless someone had started talking about the centralised porn filter again), but the OP specifically talks scornfully about a letter talking about the drawbacks of a centralised porn filter.

So that's what we are talking about. There's no derailing, we are talking about the very thing linked to (and quoted) in the OP.

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 22:59:04

That's not my reading of the OP. I can't give as full a response on iPad as it won't copy the phrases I want.

though the word technology is used, flora's quotes reference censorship, basic principles of society, the right to see the world as it is and the likelihood of driving the industry underground. That's wider in scope than technical issues, no?

Those quotes yes, but they are taken out of context. The actual letter they are taken from is talking primarily about the technology.

For example, this quote from the OP
"Rather than silencing a voice, the result is depriving the population of material they can see and read. This is censorship, as it skews the way people see the world."

Alongside the OP's comments it reads as though they are saying that blocking porn would be depriving people and censoring people right?

Here's the full quote

"On the Internet, censorship has taken a new guise. It doesn't merely prevent publication, but also restricts people’s access to the information they seek. Rather than silencing a voice, the result is depriving the population of material they can see and read. This is censorship, as it skews the way people see the world. It is tempting to regard filtering the internet as a quick and easy way to restrict unwanted speech, opinions, or media, which the government regards as harmful for either them or the people. The right to see the world as it is, is critical to the very tenets and functions of a democracy and must be protected at all costs"

This paragraph is not about porn, but about the technology being used to silence views that are in opposition to whoever controls the filter. One of the big fears with a centralised filter is the ease with which it can be abused, because so far that has happened with every single centralised filter.

Or this quote from the OP

"The current discussion of blocking pornographic content has offered no definition, no evidence and suggested no technology. This is an affront to the basic principles of the society..."

The full quote?

"The current discussion of blocking pornographic content has offered no definition, no evidence, and suggested no technology. This is an affront to basic principles of the society, and while we acknowledge that this discussion is at a starting point, we feel that the way it is being conducted is harmful."

So not saying that porn should be easily accessed, but arguing that a centralised filter isn't the way to do it.

They repeatedly talk about the aim being right but the method (the technology) being wrong and potentially harmful.

PromQueenWithin Tue 05-Mar-13 23:12:20

Thanks MOG I am off to bed now but will construct a more thoughtful reply tomorrow.

Oh and the quote about driving it underground?

Here's the full quote

^"The prohibition of pornographic content may create demand for an
underground porn industry, unregulated and most certainly affiliated with other illegal activities, as we have seen in the case of drugs or alcohol prohibition. Hiding the problem is not a solution and may in fact make things worse.^

If the Icelandic Government worries about children getting their sexual education from pornography on the Internet, the solution should be better sex education in the home or through schools. Sex education that deals not only with conception, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, but also relationships, communication and respect."

Which is correct, prohibition did nothing to stem the use of alcohol, in fact it makes it more widespread and more dangerous.

And they aren't arguing for making porn freely available, they are arguing for education to counter it.

In an ideal world we wouldn't need to counter it. I wish that we could just make it vanish. But we can't. Maybe way into the future we will see huge social change and it will be shunned. But right now? Not likely. So we need to focus on what can be done now, while we slowly change societies attitudes.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 23:15:49

But is a technical issue. Without at least a basic understanding of the issues involved (such as TCP/IP, DNS, the OSI model) the how can you begin to discuss the political ramifications. You can't just wave them away - they're fundamental to the issue.

For example, as has already been stated the closest we could probably manage would be the equivalent of China's firewall. However, this is easily bypassed by a simple VPN. How can you discuss the human rights implications of what this means with someone who has no idea what a firewall or VPN is?

The OP, as has plainly demonstrated has no technical knowledge. I struggle when my DP starts to talk about DNSSEC and IPSEC? How is the OP meant to give an informed opinion when not only does she plainly have no idea, she isn't interested?

To use an analogy its like discussing government legislation around child car seats without the first clue about kineisology or biomechanics.

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 23:26:07

I think you can quite clearly see Beanie that I have no interest in discussing the technicalities with you or on this thread.

BeanieStats Tue 05-Mar-13 23:34:23

"I think you can quite clearly see Beanie that I have no interest in discussing the technicalities with you or on this thread."

Well I can quite clearly see all you are interested in is banging the drum of your particular agenda no matter how ignorant (and so deliberately ignorant at that) you are about it.

Flora So why not talk to us about the issues in the letter you linked to? And the quotes I've posted in response to the quotes you've posted?

FloraFox Tue 05-Mar-13 23:54:08

Beanie I've said specifically that I am not willing to put my credentials on the table. You have clearly stated that you have none and you can't keep up with your DP's explanations. But you think I'm ignorant. Hey ho.

MoG the point about educating children is a non sequitur to the point about prohibition. On that point, firstly I dispute that prohibition of alcohol made it more widespread. It may not have been successful in stamping out alcohol consumption but I have never seen any evidence that it caused an increase in alcohol consumption. Also, alcohol production and distribution is highly regulated whereas porn is not. It makes no sense to compare prohibiting a regulated product and prohibiting an unregulated product.

Educating children is not a solution to the general harm done by porn nor to te apecific harm to children or exposed to it or adults exploited by it. I don't want my DD in a dating environment with boys whose first exposure to sex is anal gang rape. No amount of education can fix that.

BeanieStats Wed 06-Mar-13 00:07:08

've said specifically that I am not willing to put my credentials on the table. You have clearly stated that you have none and you can't keep up with your DP's explanations. But you think I'm ignorant. Hey ho."

As I've repeatedly said, I'm not arguing from the authority of my credentials but those of the technology community that agree that the Icelandic plan is nuts. Your refusal to engage with these arguments is entertaining but ultimately illustrates just how out of your depth you are - even to my amateur eye. ;)

I'm happy to discuss any references you can provide from those in the technology community that support your argument but I suspect they'll be a long time coming.

"Educating children is not a solution to the general harm done by porn nor to te apecific harm to children or exposed to it or adults exploited by it"

Obviously.

Educating children is only part of the solution. We also need to educate parents on how to keep their children safe online by using parental controls, filtering software, supervision etc. And also by giving parents the skills to help them talk to their children about embarrassing subjects, and helping their children deal with peer pressure.

I don't see what else we can do.

Eradicating porn entirely would be nice, but I think we'd be looking at decades worth of work at the very least.

FloraFox Wed 06-Mar-13 00:11:41

Beanie I'm really not intending to offend you but really I don't care if you're happy to discuss that with me. I'm not happy to discuss it with you.

BeanieStats Wed 06-Mar-13 00:20:16

"I'm really not intending to offend you but really I don't care if you're happy to discuss that with me. I'm not happy to discuss it with you."

If you're not willing to discuss it (or rather simply lack the knowledge to do so, I will allow others to draw their own conclusions) then why raise it on a discussion forum?

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 00:39:47

I've just skimmed through the recent comments (short on time) and see another post suggesting that the OP STFU.

I really think that on the feminism topic of MN, women should be allowed to raise and discuss issues that concern them, without being told to basically shut up and piss off.

Really, I think it is important.

it would be nice if it worked in the world in general, but it doesn't. But in this particular section of this particular website it would be really good if women could. you know, discuss stuff that matters to them from a generally feminist perspective without being told to put a sock in it. This isn't the GUU, for crying out loud.

OP I still see where you are coming from.
We certainly have laws in the UK which have been in place for years and are in line with what Iceland are suggesting.
These laws as they are enforced (sometimes) at the moment, involve prosecuting people after the event. I see no reason that Iceland should not do similar.
I don't think there is anything wrong in having a law which says that things are illegal. Even if it is hard / impossible to stop them happening.
I do not think that accessing porn is a basic principle of society - in all societies (I imagine) there are forms of porn that it is illegal to access.

Trekkie Where has anyone told the OP to STFU?

"We certainly have laws in the UK which have been in place for years and are in line with what Iceland are suggesting."

Making porn illegal is fine, totally support that. Problem is, if we are talking making it illegal rather than using a filter, the most Iceland would be able to do is ban porn from servers hosted in Iceland. And I suspect that the majority of the porn online isn't hosted in Iceland. In order for that to work all countries would have to agree to make it illegal.

Which would be excellent, and maybe we'll reach that point one day.

"I do not think that accessing porn is a basic principle of society"

It's not, the basic principle that people are worried about is that a porn ban would likely result in banning other content. Censoring things that really shouldn't be censored. Either accidentally or intentionally.

FloraFox Wed 06-Mar-13 06:10:42

beanie ok I can't believe this is not clear to you. I did not start a discussion about the present or potential capabilities of a block on Internet pornography. I don't care if you can spout names and repeat stuff your DH has told you. You don't understand it. That's your admission. Therefore I don't care what you think. You can draw any conclusion you like. I'm not interested in a discussion with someone who can only regurgitate stuff they don't understand - you or any other keyboard warrior who has read a little or listened to their DH ranting and decided to set those feminists right.

scaevola Wed 06-Mar-13 07:00:50

Umm: yes you did. For that is exactly what the letter you selectively quoted us about. And also is a main plank of what the Icelandic proposals actually are.

And unenforceable law is bad law.

scaevola Wed 06-Mar-13 07:15:34

That came out more stridently than I intended.

The Icelandic proposals (which the quoted letter is about, so very much at the centre of this thread too) centres on a technological solution, if you look at them, with their PM saying "I've commissioned technical experts to look at this. If we can put a man on the moon we can do this". This cannot be discussed in isolation from how to police the Internet and how to draw up a good law.

Or at least, not until the Icelandic government actually spells out how it intends to turn the talk into a set of measures.

I find it odd that the sound descriptions of current technological capabilities are being dismissed by some posters.

scaevola Wed 06-Mar-13 07:16:33

I'm definitely female, BTW, and fully capable of dealing with technology myself.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 07:42:21

Good morning all smile

So, OK, I didn't do all the reading blush. I can hear ghostly laughter from years of undergraduate cohorts...

I can see why the nuts and bolts people have been so vehement about what they've been saying (though I never said that what you contributed wasn't important or relevant).

I do still think that there's an interesting side to this discussion that isn't technical however, even though technicalities may be more central to the Icelandic proposition and letter in the OP than I first thought.

My philosophical question is this: what civil liberties / freedom of expression online might people in Iceland lose, and does the loss outweigh the harm that easy access to predominantly misogynistic porn does to society?

Interesting point about alcohol regulation Flora versus prohibition. I wonder whether a better proposal than a universal filter would be full scale regulation? That's probably another thread though...

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 08:57:34

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PQW "I do still think that there's an interesting side to this discussion that isn't technical however"

Oh absolutely! I think maybe it would be better suited to another thread though where it isn't so intrinsically linked to the technology.

scaveola "if you look at them, with their PM saying "I've commissioned technical experts to look at this. If we can put a man on the moon we can do this". "

Wow, hadn't heard that quote. That's a huge part of the problem with non-techies talking about the filter, they tend to compare apples with oranges.

FloraFox Wed 06-Mar-13 09:45:25

leithlurker "rude and aggressive in the extreme"?

Compared to your beloved porn, I am as gentle as a lamb. If you are so worried about demeaning women I suggest you start with the porn industry. Make some progress there then come back here and let me know how you get on. For so long as you are just interested in feminist bashing, I will continue to not give a shit what you think of me.

flora Has anyone on this thread said that they are pro-porn or anti-feminist? Disagreeing with you personally doesn't equate to either of these things.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 09:50:13

The technicalities themselves do throw up some non technical questions though, my understanding of what you've said is that there isn't the technology to make "value judgements" IYKWIM about what should be allowed through and what should be blocked.

The filter can only do exactly what it has been told, and because we can't define adequately the porn we'd like to block using language a filter can work with, either it will miss loads and therefore be pointless, or it will block too much and therefore be censorship, infringement of rights, open to abuse and present a skewed view (though I do want to snort a little at the latter point, because I'd prefer a view skewed towards women being seen as humans rather than sex toys to subjugate, as they are in a lot - not all, but a lot - of porn).

But still, I'd be interested to understand more about what civil liberties / freedom of expression online might people in Iceland lose, and does the loss outweigh the harm that easy access to predominantly misogynistic porn does to society?

"The filter can only do exactly what it has been told, and because we can't define adequately the porn we'd like to block using language a filter can work with, either it will miss loads and therefore be pointless, or it will block too much and therefore be censorship, infringement of rights, open to abuse and present a skewed view"

Spot on.

In terms of what it whether the loss outweighs the harm, I think if we were to block all porn, we'd also lose a lot of very important sites. I think the internet is a wonderful anonymous way for teenagers to get advice on sex, sexuality and intimate health issues. It is highly likely these would be blocked along with the porn. I think that is too great a loss.

However if the only options were a centralised porn filter or nothing, then I think that probably the loss would be necessary (even though it would still not be a good thing).

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 10:01:14

I really don't think that the judgement of whether a law should be enacted or not, should be based on whether it is enforcable or not.

In the UK we have the obscene publications acts - which are very subjective - but if someone is found to have been viewing something which the police & prosecutors believe breaches the law and they want to prosecute, the law is there to allow them to do that.

If that law isn't there, then there is no ability for anyone to be prosecuted for viewing even the most extreme material.

If people are arguing for the removal of all censorship & laws relating to that, then that's I suppose a coherent argument but personally I don't agree with it.

"In the UK we have the obscene publications acts - which are very subjective - but if someone is found to have been viewing something which the police & prosecutors believe breaches the law and they want to prosecute, the law is there to allow them to do that."

And that's good and could be expanded. But it's not the same thing as a filter - which is what the letter is about.

"I really don't think that the judgement of whether a law should be enacted or not, should be based on whether it is enforcable or not."

That has to play some part though. I mean if the govt said they were going to make it illegal to think something, that would obviously be ludicrous because they couldn't enforce it.

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 10:21:57

The bigger issue about a central filter is who controls it, what levels and mechanisms of arbitration are available, and what the punishments for breaking the ban would be. Oh and also how it is to be updated as the one thing we can predict is that culture moves on and with it will come new words, visual images, music etc that will try and bend if not cross the line.

Taking music as an example if a filter was looking for words common in say rap, that would mean that genre of music would be virtually dead as those that follow it use technology not just to listen to it but watch videos, blog, tweet, etc. Now that might be something that people will see as something they are prepared to lose as the music and the performers are hardly paragons of of feminism.

However black women, black feminist women across the globe will be up in arms as the music is expressly linked to a particular culture, and a particular kind of world view. I would imagine that some black activists, and even some feminist activists would see the result of banning rap because it fails the filter, as an attack on there culture. This has happened in the past when rap got started and a great moral outcry was had about the gun violence aspect, the rap community and the wider black community responded by saying that gun culture, like drugs, and the role women play, are all linked to the lives experienced by their community. Thats one example.

I was ridiculed by someone who's name I no longer see or recognise for talking about mind control, as dramatic as that sounds, if you impose limits on what is acceptable to see and hear, if you reduce the freedom of the individual and instead impose as tae directed norm, and threaten to punish any deviance from that norm. You creating either a stalinist or fascist state where liberty of thought is controlled.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 10:36:15

"This has happened in the past when rap got started and a great moral outcry was had about the gun violence aspect, the rap community and the wider black community responded by saying that gun culture, like drugs, and the role women play, are all linked to the lives experienced by their community"

I don't think anyone would deny the right of people living in communities where gun violence and drugs are prevalent to tell their stories in ways they felt were appropriate. Well, maybe some people would like to, but not me. But you can't expect me to believe that:

1. The majority of those people living in high gun crime / drugs neighbourhoods are keen to keep those things in their lives (apart from those that benefit from the activities of course)?

2. A majority of black feminists think that the way women are portrayed in rep music and surrounding culture is a positive thing for women (apart from those women that gain their power and livelihood from participation)?

Just because some is doesn't mean it should be. That's a cop out imo.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 10:36:52

*rap, not rep grin

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 10:37:22

Just because something for crying out loud!

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 10:46:28

I am not engaging in the discussion about what individual communities think is legitimate, nor the rights or wrongs of what one type of medium says about a culture. I was responding with an example, and I think that others will exist of, the type of issues that might come about from the setting up of a filter. Which is what you wanted some input on paw

The other angle where by hard line christens, muslims, jews, would like all mention of sex changed to be in line with their own doctrine.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 11:02:15

So you gave an example to illustrate your disagreement with a filter, but you'd prefer I didn't explore its implications for the overall discussion?

And I think you might be dipping a toe into moral relativism with the religion argument. It's an interesting contribution for sure, because the filter that a Christian social conservative would construct would be different from the 'hey, women are humans too' versions being discussed here, but it very quickly leads to a point where any and all exchange of views is pointless.

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 11:45:13

PMW your response is why I am not engaging, I am not asking you to do anything or dip your toe anywhere. You wanted to know what some of the issue of bringing in a filter would be, what would be lost against what would be gained.

What you read is your buisness what I was pointing to is that a one size fits all filter will have implications that will enrage and piss off some people and communities, but on the other hand will probably not go far enough in terms of the more religious people want. If you want to talk about how a filter could get past that in order to achieve a barrier then feel free. Otherwise since you are from the same mindset as flora then you want a total ban and nothing will get in the way of that so I expect your thinking to be closed off.

Just another related thought if banning things or putting filters in worked, then surely we would not have racism. Or communism would still be alive and kicking. In short imposing a ban will not change society in the way you want, the only way to do that is at the point of a gun.

The icelandic proposal is another politician making promises they cannot keep, allowing dogma and politicle ideaology to rule not the interest of the wider society.

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 12:01:17

Wow. There's so much in your post I could respond to. There's almost a thesis worth of response to write. Unfortunately, I've already got one of those with a deadline screaming towards me...

Thanks though for telling me what I can and can't discuss. Oh, and also what I'm thinking. To quote my namesake, "wicked skills!"

"Just another related thought if banning things or putting filters in worked, then surely we would not have racism. Or communism would still be alive and kicking. In short imposing a ban will not change society in the way you want, the only way to do that is at the point of a gun."

Now, I know that you don't want me to respond to the specific examples you post, but surely the fact that legislation has significantly improved the lots of both women, non-white people and hey, let's chuck in non-straight people too (not enough, but it's better than before) hasn't passed you by?

What I am interested in discussing is this apparent authoritarian censorship versus interest of the wider society dichotomy that you seem to have constructed. Once again, just because something is the way it is now, doesn't mean that it shouldn't and can't change.

And I did ask people what they thought would be lost and what would be gained, as as far as I can see (and yep, I've just rescanned your posts once again) you haven't answered that...?

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 12:03:06

And also, did you just "mansplain" recent social history and current political theory to me grin?

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 13:54:37

But there are limits on what it is acceptable to see. There are limits in every country in the world (I would have thought) with various laws which can be used when people seek out things to view that are deemed unacceptable.

This conversation seems to forget that basic fact, as if the existing position in western society is that people are allowed to consume whatever kind of media images etc they like. This is not true. Viewing some things is illegal. Just because a person has the ability to look at something, does not render it legal, it does not change the law. We do have censorship in the UK, and we do have restrictions on what we are allowed to say, look at and so on. This conversation often seems to be framed as if that were not the case.

But the reason the letter in the OP was written wasn't because of making porn illegal, it was because of plans to make a centralised internet porn filter.

They are two separate arguments.

scaevola Wed 06-Mar-13 14:21:36

When the Icelandic Government publishes what measures, including the (undefined) technological ones it appears to be putting at the core of its agenda thus far, then the debate really starts.

At the moment, all there is appears to be a vague statement that they aspire to a technological solution, and the response quoted from in OP points out why there is (currently) no feasible option for that aspect, short of the levels of censorship used by a couple of totalitarian regimes (who are rightly criticised for having infrastructure which permits heavy censorship).

The writers of the letter in OP also point out how existing technology can best be used in order to protect children. A public education campaign to ensure this information is readily available, and possibly public funds to subsidise any preferred domestic filters (though there are very good free options available), might be a better use of time/funds, especially as it would also provide an opportunity to promote change in society's attitudes.

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 15:20:20

The open letter isn't concentrating on technology, it is asserting that any restriction on what people see or read is anathema.

It overlooks entirely that most (all?) countries in the world have restrictions on what people are allowed to see or read.

I find the open letter confusing and badly written. I also find their bald statement that "the internet is not the source of violence" peculiar - if they mean that people are violent not the internet then that is true but the existence of the internet has certainly caused direct harm to many people. They should have been clearer I think in what they meant in that part.

The open letter is in direct response to a plan for a centralised filter, so it is about technology and the bits about censorship refer to how a centralised filter always gets used.

I will agree that bits of it aren't well written though. I think they've tried to cram too many points into too short a letter, and some of them have got garbled.

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 16:54:30

Do you have a link to the actual proposals? I have only been able to find the item that I linked to earlier.

Trekkie Wed 06-Mar-13 16:58:20

This part

"Traditionally, censorship has involved preventing publication and persecution of people with unpopular opinions. On the Internet, censorship has taken a new guise. It doesn’t merely prevent publication, but also restricts people’s access to the information they seek. Rather than silencing a voice, the result is depriving the population of material they can see and read. This is censorship, as it skews the way people see the world. It is tempting to regard filtering the internet as a quick and easy way to restrict unwanted speech, opinions, or media, which the government regards as harmful for either them or the people. The right to see the world as it is, is critical to the very tenets and functions of a democracy and must be protected at all costs."

But they are overlooking the fact that in most (all?) countries in the world there are restrictions not only on what you can publish, but also on what people are allowed to see and read. I don't understand why they are approaching this as if in democracies at the moment there is no restriction or censorship. That is just not true and I'm afraid that for me it undermines anything else they may be trying to say. Are they really against all restrictions and censorship? Do they want to dismantle all the existing laws? They are not being straightforward, I think.

Leithlurker Wed 06-Mar-13 17:27:09

PQW if your only response is to belittle and accuse me of things that are subjective not objective then please do get on with your work.

Are you seriously saying that hate crime still persist despite years of having an out right ban on racist language and images? If you are I suggest you need to check your perception. If you are being deliberately obtuse, then perhaps you would like to explain from your point of view what the Stephen Lawrence case, was all about 20 odd years after the passing in to law of the race relations act. Similerly, do please explain how you will prevent women being objectified by a man?

PromQueenWithin Wed 06-Mar-13 17:35:43

Why are you getting so riled Leith? I'm really not trying to belittle or be rude to you, merely attempting to engage in an exchange of views.

"Are you seriously saying that hate crime still persist despite years of having an out right ban on racist language and images?"

Well clearly hate crime still persists, I don't think anyone is trying to deny that, but I'd also suggest that overall, society is somewhat less racist than it was before hate speech and racist imagery etc was A-OK legally. Of course, I'll freely acknowledge my white privilege in making such an assumption and be happy (well, sad) to stand corrected on my perception that racism has reduced in the last 30 years*

*arbitrary time period for discursive purposes

Sorry, what was the point of this again? deliberately ignoring insults directed at self

scaevola Mon 20-May-13 13:49:36

An envoi to this thread: Did the Icelandic Government publish anything before the elections which turned these intentions into a set of technologically possible measures? Or did it remain in the realms of 'if we can put a man on the moon we can do something'?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now