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Mandy's Bill gets buttocks amendment

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Lord Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill, we're told, is about "equipping the UK to compete and lead in the global digital economy". If two Conservative peers get their way though, its also about censoring breasts, buttocks and anuses.

One section of the Bill sets up a compulsory age classification system for video games, in part by relying on the Video Recordings Act 1984.

But for reasons currently known only to themselves (perhaps that's for the best), Lords Howard and de Mauley are concerned that the old law allows too much scope for gamers to look at virtual body parts.

At present, the Video Recordings Act exempts from classification works that when taken as a whole are "designed to inform, educate or instruct" or "concerned with sport, religion or music".

Those exemptions do not apply, however, when the work depicts to any great extent "mutilation or torture of, or other acts of gross violence towards, humans or animals". A depiction of "human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions" also means a compulsory age rating, even if your work is musical or sporty.

But the noble Lords apparently believe this leaves loopholes for video games developers to dodge age classification. They have tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill (effectively amending the Video Recordings Act) that replaces "gross" with "graphic".

They also want a depiction of an "anus, breasts or buttocks" - not just genitals or excretion - to mean a compulsory once over by the censor.

We're not sure what games Lords Howard and de Mauley have been playing to warrant their concerns. However, if the amendment is included in the Bill, which will enter committee stage in January, it means the regulatory costs for El Reg's forthcoming graphic - but highly educational - buttock-em-up are set to rocket. ®

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