Feeds

Govt uses Obscenity Law to stuff up cartoon sex loophole

We Need To Talk About Lisa

High performance access to file storage

The second area for concern is the way in which this proposal further embeds in English Law the idea that possession of various materials should, in and of itself, be an offence. The law follows the model of that on extreme porn, and possibly throws light on some of the thinking that went into that law. Once again, the government have preferred to reject the Obscene Publications Act definition of obscenity, preferring instead the phrase "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character". Pictures will need to be produced "for sexual purposes".

They were also clear, at the consultation stage, that imagery covered by this new offence is intended to sit, in terms of seriousness, above the level already covered by "indecency", but – according to the proposed penalties – below that covered by Obscene Publishing.

It is not clear whether this is because the OPA definition is too subjective or, as government lawyers have argued, because it would not make sense to apply the "deprave and corrupt" test to an individual who is self-evidently already thoroughly depraved.

The proposal omits any minimum standard of realism, almost certainly out of necessity: if we are to pass such legislation, we should seek to avoid interminable courtroom arguments about how real something appears. An image will therefore be treated as an image of a child where "the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child". We may have laughed when an Australian was convicted and fined for making indecent pictures of the Simpsons, but the same could soon be happening here.

The government have also come up with a definitive answer to the question of "how can one tell?". This Bill will cover images where "the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child".

That could be bad news for inhabitants of some of the seedier reaches of Sadville, in which, despite policy warning against taking child avatars into "mature" play areas, it remains possible to have poseball sex with players who share several characteristics with children (or even cats, puppies or horses).

Ultimately, this is not trivial either as issue or proposal. The government recognised as much at the consultation stage, acknowledging that the criminalisation of wholly fictitious material was a serious step. Whether you are for or against this proposal, it deserves serious debate. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
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
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
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
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
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
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.