Feeds

Extreme porn bill gets final reading

Brace for dirty book burnings, smut amnesties

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

It must be ever so vexing to pass a law that you think will make you the most popular boy in class – only to be greeted by a mass chorus of “you still stink!”.

That seems to have been the case with the abolition of the 10p rate of tax, and it may yet come to pass with government legislation on extreme porn.

Of course, it isn’t law yet. The Criminal Justice Bill – of which it is part - receives the Royal Assent tomorrow (8 May). But the sections on extreme porn only become operative on their allotted commencement date. That has not yet been set.

In fact, it may never be set. One unhappy feature of this government’s approach to law-making is that some laws are passed, and then forgotten, without ever being put into effect.

Could that happen with extreme porn? Or at least, with this incarnation of the law?

The last few days have seen a step change in responses to the legislation. One straw in the wind has been the large and overwhelmingly hostile postbag I have received since starting to write more widely on this issue. (Hostile to the law, that is, not to me.)

Men are getting cross. Women, too. But it is the men who are significant. Men tend not to politicise, as a group, around single issues. They seem to be doing so now. And whilst a mass movement of men dedicated to preserving their right to wank fodder may not be the most edifying of sights, it is still powerful.

The government has claimed that this law will only affect a tiny minority of individuals. In response, the Lords objected time and time again that the definitions were too wide and that individuals would not be able to tell what was legal, what not. In the confines of the debating chamber, this was an interesting abstract argument.

When it becomes a real question of whether or not possessing a certain picture could have you jailed for up to three years, all abstraction quickly fades.

This ambiguity has not been lost on campaigners against the law, who today moved from arguing the case, to direct action. A small group met outside the British Library this morning to burn images taken from a range of “coffee table” books. It was a symbolic gesture. The images may be illegal when the “Dangerous Pictures Act” – as they now describe the extreme porn provisions – becomes law. They may not. As the demonstrators themselves said: “Who knows?”

One of the books from which pictures were taken was Sex by Madonna. It's a controversial and collectible tome. On Amazon today, a mint edition was being offered for £700.

I spoke to five different lawyers and got five different views. Three thought the book would be in the clear. Two thought it contained images that could breach the new law.

Other books likely to cause problems include works by noted photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and China Hamilton.

Of course, the government will utter soothing words. But in a world in which possessing the wrong image could now make you a criminal, there will inevitably be a tendency towards caution. So there is crossness. And there is fear.

After a hard morning’s book-burning, the group moved on to Parliament Square. They waved placards and generated a few soundbites for Radio 1. Thus far, it is small beer. It may fizzle out. It may grow.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.