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‘Extreme porn’ and internet censorship

Sun. 11 Aug. 2013

Those of you with your ear to the ground probably know the government is pushing to expand the scope of the “extreme porn” law, and to introduce compulsory internet filtering of adult material. The “extreme porn” law of 2008, which became effective in early 2009, makes it a criminal offence to possess images of many acts that are commonly practiced by consenting adults in the BDSM scene here in the UK and internationally (yes, that’s right, simple possession is illegal).

In case you didn’t realise, this is rather an important issue; actually, it’s a very serious issue, and you don't need to be a professional mistress to appreciate this fact. So if you haven’t had your ear to the ground, I suggest it’s time for you to do so – and I’m going to make it easy for you to do so with this News item of mine. Therefore, without further ado...

Backlash is the umbrella organisation founded in 2005 to provide “academic, legal and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression”. They “support the rights of adults to participate in all consensual sexual activities and to watch, read and create any fictional interpretation of such in any media”, and they “provide legal advice and defend those caught up in these new laws, raise awareness about why the laws are wrong, won’t work, and have unintended consequences”.

Besides the Backlash home page and a thorough general exploration of the site, I can recommend their page The Law, which presents the main points of the “extreme pornography” law as it is enshrined in section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. This page also presents a summary of the well-considered opposition to the law. I also particularly recommend this guest post on the Blacklash blog page: The UK porn filter: limp and unwelcome.

Those who think this is a storm in a teacup might be interested to know that the extreme-porn law provided a model to criminalise certain categories of non-photographic visual material in the “Dangerous Cartoons Act” in 2010. So everyone can see these laws are a moveable feast, popping up again and again in different places and contexts, and are continually expanding. The Backlash site also provides links to quite a few other sites that offer information, insights and commentary on this and other related issues. I’ve been re-tweeting them on select occasions for a couple of weeks now.

If you’re interested in a recent case of the “extreme porn” law in dismal action, that is, as recent as this time last year, see the account of the acquittal (yes, the law’s performance in this case was dismal on more counts than one) of Simon Walsh in SomethingDark webMagazine: An extreme law, ‘pornography’ and another tabloid debacle. This case is an excellent illustration of how an appalling law stands to potentially affect all of us.

For regular updates from an academic lawyer’s coverage of these issues, see the Law and Sexuality blog of Chris Ashford; here’s a good place to start: Tackling illegal images.

For some other links of relevance, see my own Links page. At this point I can mention that I've had a link to the Backlash site on my Links page since geopinch.co.uk, my main site, was launched in February 2011.

There you go, it’s up to you now to take an interest in matters that affect you.

Mistress Geo


Update (09 Mar. 2017): For my subsequent items on sexual politics, see:

More on forced internet filtering and the ‘porn monster’

Didn’t you know BDSM is akin to yoga? Well, it is!

Domme-art’s victory over commercial and moral repression

Tiger porn ‘joke’ is now on police and prosecutors

A sign of our moralistic times: outrage over a shirt

Am I a skeptic? Sex & Censorship in the pub

Internet ‘filtering’ was always the thin edge of the wedge (part 1)

Internet ‘filtering’ was always the thin edge of the wedge (part 2)

Internet ‘filtering’ was always the thin edge of the wedge (part 3)

Internet ‘filtering’ was always the thin edge of the wedge (part 4)

It’s never too late for champagne

Important: images showing marks left by CP are ‘likely’ to be banned

I have begun the wholesale censoring of this website

And for one that mixes my BDSM practice with current affairs of a sexual political nature: More on the big O