Porn viewers beware: Big Brother will be watching!

The Digital Economy Bill is expected to soon gain Royal Assent. Included is a plan for an age-verification regulating body to ensure all online viewers of pornography are over the age of 18. The regulator will force viewers to enter their personal details into a government database before admittance to an erotic website is obtained. Any vendor that refuses to comply will be blacklisted.

The government is convinced that free access to pornography is doing untold damage to a generation of young men. However, like all social ‘sciences’, research on the subject is tenuous. During the Bill’s second reading, sponsor Karen Bradley and Labour’s Sarah Champion resorted to the musings of adolescents for supporting evidence. Bradley claimed that “one in five children recently surveyed had encountered pornographic images that had upset them”, whilst Champion quoted a report in which “71% of girls aged 17 to 21 agreed that online pornography makes aggressive and violent behaviour towards women seem normal.”

Clearly, this bill contains some fruity assumptions. But the real pressing matter is its vulnerability to abuse. In a 2014 survey, 15% of Britons admitted to being regular watchers of porn, meaning civil serpents will be privy to stacks of sensitive information. Can we really trust officialdom with this fountain of knowledge? Not when, according to the National Audit Office, State departments breached personal security data 9,000 times between 2014/15.

In addition, executing the checks is going to be a colossal operation: around 4% of the worldwide web is adult material. The exact cost to the taxpayer has not yet been calculated, but the British Board of Film Classification – the agency in charge – will struggle to screen all the petabytes. Just how many porn-browsing bureaucrats will they need to hire? And in an era of ruinous deficits and perpetual healthcare crises, should we be undertaking such pricey measures?

To be fair, the internet is an ocean of degeneracy. And if left to their own devices, teenage boys will accumulate a formidable arsenal of porn. But we should be trusting the parents to police this ‘problem'; porn filters are widely available, easily installed and already used by 40% of guardians in the US. Raising awareness in the UK would be a cheaper, less invasive, more appropriate response.

Let’s face it: the Digital Economy Bill is botched. Register your disapproval here.


Charlie Richards is a political blogger 

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty

3 Comments

  1. Spartanlemur says:

    “To be fair, the internet is an ocean of degeneracy.”

    There is no such thing as “degeneracy” (not in the universal sense, anyway). If there is such thing as “good” or “evil”, then such notions are either relative, or beyond our comprehension. If you believe in God, then God made man perfect, in his own image. If you don’t, then there is no benchmark for perfection anyway. Notions of objective good an evil based on personal judgements erroneously believe that one’s own fears and joys are the benchmark for all others: arrogance of the highest order!

    More “conservatives” need to read St Augustine (an actual conservative who supported legal prostitution). Government is not to serve as a force for moral guidance – its only role is to ensure some level of social stability while people pursue their unique final causes.

    I fall into the extreme moral individualist camp myself. I.e. there is no “good” or “evil”, and society simply sees us co-operating to reach self-fulfillment.

    There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with 13 year olds choosing to see porn (not on an objective level anyway – such ideas can only be the result of subjective opinion). No harm takes place. The same is true when ten year-olds mow down civilians in Grand Theft Auto. And the mental development of a child is up to the child and their parents. The dodgy statistics (self-reporting and subjective opinions on causality – this is worthless stuff) which claim negative effects are interpreted in incredibly subjective ways. From a social stability perspective, unfettered access to internet porn over the last 20 years has not threatened social stability in a considerable way, and so there is no basis upon which a government can justifiably do anything about this.

    This whole bill is a cluster****. It’s not only an example of what Augustine might have called “negative government”, but it’s also based more on prejudice than any semblance of rational thought (solving a problem which doesn’t exist), and throws the door wide open for a police state. And this is not to mention the fact that it persecutes vast numbers of people who benefit from a free and open internet.

    Claire Perry MP is clearly a “problem MP”. Just recently, she likened her Brexiteer colleagues to “jihadis”, and she is the force behind this deranged bill. She needs to be marginalised within the Conservative Party at the first opportunity. There can be no tolerance for people like her when they hold the reins of power.

    • The “degeneracy” comment was tongue in cheek – I’m not that prissy! I do however think a lot of online content has the potential to harm the mental development of children, and that parents ought to be aware of this. Otherwise yes, spot on.

  2. James Palmer says:

    Conservatives for Liberty? Try not voting Conservative you bunch of fucking idiots. Wholesale stripping of freedoms and liberties from both British and American people going on right now. I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. You have turned us both into fucking surveillance states. SHAME on you.

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