Feeds

UK obscenity law: Where to now?

Post-Girls (Scream) Aloud, the written word is safe - for now

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

What have we learned, children?

Yet it is the latter that has far greater implications for public policy and freedom of speech. There have now been a number of calls, including one from Jo Glanville, editor of the respected political magazine, Index on Censorship, for such decisions in future to be automatically passed by the DPP.

From the other side, no demands yet for an overhaul of the OPA: though recent claims that extreme porn legislation has been used in instances where an OPA prosecution might have been more appropriate must give pause for thought. Is the extreme porn model of "tick box" obscenity more attractive to legislators and law enforcement?

This case highlights one further aspect of OPA practice – which is the way in which one individual was publicly pilloried, tried by the media, then spat back out jobless and with future prospects impaired. It is his hope that he can now put this episode behind him: future employment may, however, now fall foul of the government’s Vetting legislation, which requires the police to make even non-conviction information available to future employers.

What, then, has this case achieved? Although the author took down the story quickly in an effort to appease the authorities, a helpful proponent of free speech appears to have reinstated it not very much later. The story is still online.

The CPS and Police say that they needed to act because the site was easy to access – which is partly true – and because it was easy to stumble upon. The latter was always far less true and a simple familiarity with how Google works might have saved both bodies a great deal of time.

Ironically, the mass of searches and site hits likely to have resulted from the publicity around this trial will have raised this story in the rankings of many search engines, and made it far more easy to "stumble upon" innocently. This is the same issue the IWF hit when they attempted to block access to what they deemed to be a potentially illegal image of a Scorpions album cover late last year.

Does that mean illegal material should not be prosecuted? No. However, the authorities need to keep in mind that an almost inevitable result of such banning attempts will be not simply to increase interest in it – which has always been the case – but on the internet, to increase the likelihood of it being found accidentally. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.