Feeds

Extreme porn bill gets final reading

Brace for dirty book burnings, smut amnesties

High performance access to file storage

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.