Feeds

Govt uses Obscenity Law to stuff up cartoon sex loophole

We Need To Talk About Lisa

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.