Feeds

Scottish Parliament pr0n law faces angry opposition

Dead horse flogging farce limps on

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Last week, the long-awaited Scottish extreme porn bill (pdf) was published — s34 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill — and it hasn’t gone down well at all.

The proposal was much as expected; similar to the English version, but slightly more extreme. However, unlike the English version, which avoided the trap of appearing to criminalise pictures of people flogging a dead horse — by criminalising sado-masochism or bestiality or necrophilia — Scottish legislators have walked straight into it, seeking to make it illegal to own pictures of anyone having sex with an animal carcass.

Those familiar with the English law on this subject will be aware that it is now illegal, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to possess ‘extreme’ pornographic pictures. These are defined as images that show damage to genitals, breast or anus, or depict a threat to life in a pornographic context: so it is now OK to while away the dark winter evenings ogling mass murder, so long as one’s interest in the topic is purely psychotic.

The English law also criminalises the possession of pictures of bestiality or necrophilia.

Excepted are pictures in which those who possess them are also the principal actors in the pictures — a peculiar get-out, which appears to encourage the acting-out of fantasy. Pictures with a BBFC rating are also exempt — so long as you possess the film, the whole film and nothing but.

What then of the Scottish law? It is tighter than the English law in several places. Harm has been extended beyond the specific (body) parts listed in the English law.

A close reading suggests that in England, a court might permit you to possess a depiction of a consensual act that you were involved in that may result in “threat to life” or “serious injury” — the Scottish version now reads “severe” for some reason — but in Scotland, consent no longer counts.

The other area in which the Scottish law plays fast and loose with the concept of consent is in respect of “rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity”. The key point here is that even if it was actually consensual, an image will be illegal if it looks non-consensual or if it appears to show harm.

An image will be judged as “pornography” — or not — solely by looking at the image, accompanying sounds, and where the image is part of the series, the context in which it appears. Intriguingly, the English version of the law makes no reference to sounds: so possibly jurors will be required to watch any prosecutions south of the border without sound.

The only positive aspect to this proposal is that the Scottish Government appear not to have attempted the English trick of creating a new definition of obscenity based on the dictionary, relying instead on the pre-existing s51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Opposition to this proposed legislation is both broader and louder than it was in England. The usual suspects are there: Becky Dwyer, convenor for Consenting Adult Action Scotland, is actively campaigning against the legislation and met on Friday with civil servants responsible for the redrafting of the legislation.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

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 ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'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
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
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
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.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.