Feeds

Extreme porn law used on beastly Chinese DVD pirates

Cops make grab for mysterious black bags

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Five months on from the passage of new laws on extreme porn, police forces up and down the UK appear to be using them sparingly – and not quite in the way that parliament intended.

According to sources within law enforcement, there have been two or three prosecutions on their patch under the new legislation. In each case, the crime targeted is one that crops up regularly and is organised by Chinese gangs.

Our informant explained: "It is always the same. A Chinese man is seen on the streets with a black holdall apparently trying to flog things to passers by. When stopped the holdall is discovered to contain a lot of very obviously pirated DVDs.

"There will be several copies of the latest blockbuster releases with very bad covers, and some pornography, always including some bestiality DVDs. Sometimes I think it is the same bag doing the rounds of all the stray Chinamen in the country."

According to our source, prosecutions always tended to be under counterfeiting and trademark laws. A charge under the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) has also been possible.

However, the police have now taken to adding a charge under extreme porn legislation for the bestiality DVDs. Whilst our source does not have access to national figures – and the Ministry of Justice are unable to provide such figures so soon after the new law went live – they are aware of at least two occasions where this has happened, and estimate that that it has almost certainly happened a lot more: based on the proportion of cases that they see, they suggest this new application of the law could have resulted in as many as 100 cases nationwide.

If true, this suggests critics were right to challenge claims that it was no more than the Obscene Publications Act for the internet age. In the cases described, it would have been open to the police and prosecuting authorities to charge individuals under the Obscene Publications Act.

If there was – as has been argued – no difference between obscenity as defined in the extreme porn law and the OPA version of obscenity, then the OPA would be the more appropriate legislation to apply. The material in question was obscene: those caught by the police would have been guilty of seeking to distribute it – not mere possession.

The fact that the extreme porn law was used might suggest that the prosecuting authorities have understood that whilst bestial material may be disgusting, a jury might not necessarily consider that it "depraved and corrupted" – the test that must be applied under the OPA. However, under the extreme porn law, the test is much simpler: if the material in question contains bestiality, an offence has been committed.

In this respect at least, it looks as though the new law is much more easily used than the old: it remains to be seen whether, in other areas too, the extreme porn law might not end up supplanting existing law on obscenity. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
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?