No sex please, they are British (and no porn, and no kink and no rights)

this is illegal porn

Preoccupied as I was with the unending mess of my own country’s politics – or what passes for it these days – in the last months, I admit I didn’t give much thought to the news about new law proposals in England. Only the growing panic of most of my British friends convinced me to check out what was actually happening beyond the Channel, and when I finally connected the dots I found in several news I understood their agitation.  This post is to inform other inattentive persons about a very serious situation that could effect all of us if we don’t take action against it.
This story began in 2012, when the news broke that recently deceased TV host Jimmy Savile had been one of the most active sex offender in Britain, using his fame and wealth to abuse about three hundred children. The revelation – and the implication that Savile was just one among a group of high-profile predators – shocked the nation exacerbating the ever-popular pedophile media scaremongering.

The tragic discovery and the general sentiment were immediately repurposed by several political and religious factions to fuel their repressive social plans. Leveraging hypocrisy and ignorance, they conflated child abuse with rape, rape with porn and porn with the Internet. In a flash, a new political campaign was born: if you don’t want your children to be raped, of course you’ll have to let the government control your access to digital information.
Needless to say, this has no sense at all – except to those in power, who are eager to seize any opportunity to limit the sources of information available to citizens. Less freedom of information always corresponds to more control over the masses, and history taught us that repressing sexual freedom is the absolute best way to beat a population into submission. Please note, if this really has to be spelled out, that I am not advocating the crime of child abuse here (or any crime at all): I am merely saying that a sex-positive environment breeds happiness and critical thinking – two mean dangers to authorities in general.

In practical terms, last April PM David Cameron asked the operators of public Wi-Fi networks to filter explicit content. All the major providers happily complied because, after all, what is the use of accessing dirty stuff when you are not home?
Come July, he upped the ante with a new requirement: home Internet accesses must block porn by default, ostensibly to protect innocent eyes from evil websites. In the next months the filters will be deployed nationwide, so that to browse adult sites you will have to “opt in” – a nice way to say “legally register”. The glee with which Cameron explained that «husbands who want to watch porn online will have to have an embarrassing discussion with their wives» speaks volumes about the sexist, repressed and guilt-ridden view that British government holds on sexuality. And this is not the end of it. By far.

The next move in this remarkably quick war of position was to inform search engine companies that the English parliament would very much like them to apply filters to negate child porn searches. They could refuse, of course, but he could enforce a law about it after all. Not surprisingly, Google and Microsoft among others obeyed. Not that there is anything wrong about blocking online searches for criminal content, naturally.
Worrywarts might remember that oppressive governments like China, North Korea and many Islamic countries filter out (and track, and punish) “criminal content” searches too. Everything depends on whoever decides which keywords mark you as a dissident, and the recent surveillance scandals have clearly shown us that we can trust authority with blind faith, cannot we? But stay with me.

Next stop: stopping «rape porn». Next January possessing pornography depicting real or simulated rape will be punishable with up to three years in jail. Let me repeat: if you live in Britain and you have one picture or one drawing of a nonconsensual sex act on your phone, PC or whatever you are going to prison.
Does it count that every study so far has demonstrated that there is an inverserelationship between the availability of extreme porn and actual sex abuse? No. Does it count that lots of porn can look like indecent assault even if it is not? No. Does it count that the definition of ‘abuse’ is open to personal interpretation, and a jury might consider illegal something you and everyone you know think as perfectly consensual? No, no and no. British citizens won’t have any real control on their status of possible criminals. Even if they destroyed every single adult content on their hardware, technically they could get jailed for owning a copy of Clockwork orange or any other movie and literary work containing one rape scene – including Harlequin romance novels.

«But how could they ever check on what I have on my computers?» I hear you saying. And the answer is simple: remember that opt-in request described earlier? You signed your confession yourself, mate. I am not saying the police is going to kick in your door and drag you away (like they did in Operation Spanner, by the way), because they’d have to bring in just everybody and that’s not realistic. But this scenario has very concrete implications to pave the way for “extraordinary renditions” of just about whoever the powers that be want silenced. All it takes is sending him or her an MMS with the right picture.
While human rights organizations are scrambling for a last-minute save of this unpleasant situation, the most dangerous aspect of it all is probably the ease and speed with which the English government managed this subversion of civil principles. Even more worryingly, this counter-revolution could become a blueprint for other governments to follow in the name of vague threats and protection. To be aware of it is the first step in defending your rights.

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