The government’s Digital Economy Bill seeking to block access to porn sites with no age verification is shoddy for a long list of reasons. First, how do they decide what to block? Twitter for example contains a huge amount of immediately accessible porn, will the whole social network be blocked? The BBFC, who usually provide classifications for films, will have to employ an army of porn-watchers to determine what is and isn’t blockable. On a practical level, it is impossible to police all 800 million or so porn sites in the world.
Then there are the age restrictions themselves. The government plan is to force viewers to hand over credit card or passport details. Given the stories about hacking we have seen over the last few years, who would share their personal information with some porn baron? Why is the government allowing the potential for people’s names to be forever linked in online databases to their entire porn viewing history? What happens when Britons’ personal porn data is hacked, as it inevitably will be at some point?
DCMS want to issue fines of up to £250,000 to porn sites which refuse to implement age verification. Yet only 7% of porn on the internet is hosted in the UK – 93% of sites hosting porn would remain untouchable. And what’s to stop the current British porn sites moving their servers offshore? Claire Perry has tabled an amendment – backed by lobbyists at Christian Action – to ban foreign sites as well. The government has the ability to do that, but savvy users can simply use a VPN to log on in seconds. Not for the first time, Porno Perry does not understand the internet.
Most importantly, all this forgets one very simple rule: No piece of legislation will ever be invented that can prevent teenage boys from finding and looking at pictures of naked women. Now, about those donkeys…