Feeds

'Extreme' extreme porn law puts Scots out of kilter

Proposals would criminalise material allowed in rest of UK

Security for virtualized datacentres

If you thought Scotland might be a safe place to stash your collection of dubious erotic artwork when legislation on extreme porn comes into force, think again.

Proposals announced last week by the Scottish Executive suggest that far from being a haven for smut, Scotland is soon to become an even tougher regime for those with "forbidden" interests.

As regular readers will be aware, back in May the Westminster Parliament passed the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. This included legislation (s.63 - s.66) that would make it a crime to possess material that was pornographic and realistically depicted various acts, including extreme violence, bestiality and necrophilia.

Although the Act was passed in May, these sections have not yet been "commenced"- the official position appears to be that it will become active law in January 2009.

However, this legislation only applied to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For a while it looked as though a gap might have opened up between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Not so. In an announcement last week, the Scottish Executive made clear its intention to bring forward legislation on a wide range of topics that would "modernise and improve the Criminal Justice System".

Amongst these was legislation on the possession of extreme pornographic material. Whilst these proposals are modelled on the law already passed in England, they go further than that – and further, too, than proposals included in their original consultation on the subject.

Thus, it could become a crime to possess pornographic material that realistically depicts not only life-threatening acts, bestiality or necrophilia, but also "rape and other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity, whether violent or otherwise".

It is the last category – rape and other non-consensual activity – that goes beyond existing legislation. This is still at the consultation stage, and readers wishing to put in their own two-pence worth should take a look at the latest consultation document.

Will this cause issues of enforcement? We spoke with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is in conversation with the Home Office about enforcing the legislation in the rest of the UK. Its view is that there will be no problems. Any extension of the remit to cover extreme porn is likely to be limited to monitoring UK sites that were producing material that potentially fell foul of the new legislation.

There were very few sites likely to meet the extreme porn criteria, and these would simply be referred to the appropriate authorities for further investigation. The IWF currently has no intention of compiling a block list of extreme pornographic URLs.

Whilst this measure may not - yet - see different filters on your PC according to whether you live north or south of the border, it does raise the question of whether the day might come when material legally downloaded onto a laptop in London could lead to your arrest and imprisonment in Edinburgh.

The view of the Scottish Executive is that this will "help ensure society is protected from exposure to pornography that depicts horrific images of violence".

A spokeswoman for Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) Scotland rejects this. According to her: "This is nothing more than the SNP using legislation as a sop to buy support. In Scotland there has always been greater pressure on legislation from organised religion.

"The SNP has already given way to the Catholic Church on denominational schools. This is just more in the same vein, based on the calculation that few people will risk standing up in public and arguing for pornography.

"In fact the issues are much wider. Measures of this kind create a vast amount of uncertainty, which in the end has the effect of chilling speech overall. As someone who works in the film industry, I was recently involved in covering the Glasgow 'bootleg film' festival. This was about film as art and included a wide range of contributions from low-budget independent producers.

"They will not be able to afford the legal advice to tell them whether they are breaking the law – and if legislation of this type passes, such events will be far more constrained in future". ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.