The French Government publishes a feminist campaigning report calling for the criminalisation of the porn industry in France
|28th September 2023
See article from xbiz.com
report [French language pdf] from haut-conseil-egalite.gouv.fr
A sensationalistic report commissioned by a French government office released this week is urging immediate state censorship and broad criminalization of the adult industry in France and worldwide.
The report is titled Pornocriminality and was
produced by France's High Council for the Equality Between Women and Men (HCE).
The report is being promoted in the press by feminist campaigner, Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, a former journalist and anti-sex work advocate, who served in the HCE
between 2019 and 2021.
According to the HCE, 90% of pornographic content presents unsimulated acts of physical, sexual or verbal violence against women:
Pornography, the government report claims, is at the intersection of all hatreds and is part of the continuum of violence, including rape culture, dehumanization of women,
apology for incest, racism, child crime and LGBTphobia.
In these millions of videos, women -- caricatured with the
worst sexist and racist stereotypes -- are humiliated, objectified, dehumanized, violated, tortured, undergoing treatment contrary to human dignity and... French law, the HCE proclaims, making no distinction between consensual and unconsensual sex,
acting and not acting, or even fiction and reality. Indeed, some of these violent contents meet the legal definition of acts of torture and barbarism. The women are real, the sexual and violent acts are real, and the suffering is often perfectly visible
and at the same time eroticized. Pornography is not cinema.
Age/Identity Verification is back on for Texas porn viewers
|23rd September 2023
See article from avn.com
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an administrative stay on the preliminary injunction blocking Texas House Bill 1181 from entering into force. This means that the law requiring age verification for internet porn is now
in effect, at least until a full hearing challenging the internet censorship law as unconstitutional.
House Bill (HB) 1181 is a controversial law requiring an age verification regimen for all adult websites that have users from Texas IP addresses. The
law was challenged in a federal district court last month due to a measure in the bill that would require adult websites to additionally post health warning labels at the top and bottom of web pages and on marketing collateral. The Free Speech
Coalition, the parent companies of the largest adult tube sites in the world, and pay-sites affiliated with these platforms sued the state of Texas , arguing that HB 1181 is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.
They argued that a
government cannot require a privately owned website to issue a public health warning when the claims in the warnings are not accepted by mainstream medicine, psychology and neuroscience. Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra agreed with the
plaintiffs and issued a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking Texas from enforcing the law. but it was this decision that was overturned in this appeal.
North Carolina initiates an internet censorship requiring age/identity verification for porn viewing
|23rd September 2023
See article from
The North Carolina Senate has voted unanimously to mandate age verification on adult websites, after a Republican senator snuck a copycat amendment mirroring other states' requirements into an unrelated bill.
Senator Amy Galey added the requirement to
House Bill 8, a previously unrelated measure that would add a computer science class to the state's high school graduation requirements.
Galey justified her amendment by saying the measure was needed to protect children, citing the seven other
states that have passed similar laws and noting with satisfaction that overall traffic to adult websites in Louisiana dropped 80% after that state's age verification law passed. North Carolina's HB 8 is now headed back to the state's House of
Representatives for further debate.
The Online Censorship Bill passes its final parliamentary hurdle
|20th September 2023
See article from newscientist.com
The UK's disgraceful Online Safety Bill has passed through Parliament and will soon become law. The wide-ranging legislation, which is likely to affect every internet user in the UK and any service they access, and generate mountains of onerous red tape
for any internet business stupid enough to be based in Britain. Potential impacts are still unclear and some of the new regulations are technologically impossible to comply with.
A key sticking point is what the legislation means for end-to-end
encryption, a security technique used by services like WhatsApp that mathematically guarantees that no one, not even the service provider, can read messages sent between two users. The new law gives regulator Ofcom the power to intercept and check this
encrypted data for illegal or harmful content.
Using this power would require service providers to create a backdoor in their software, allowing Ofcom to bypass the mathematically secure encryption. But this same backdoor would be abused by
hackers, thieves, scammers and malicious states to snoop, steal and hack. Beyond encryption, the bill also brings in mandatory age checks on pornography websites and requires that websites have policies in place to protect people from harmful or
illegal content. What counts as illegal and exactly which websites will fall under the scope of the bill is unclear, however.
Neil Brown at law firm decoded.legal says Ofcom still has a huge amount of work to do. The new law could plausibly affect any
company that allows comments on its website, publishes user-generated content, transmits encrypted data or hosts anything that the government deems may be harmful to children, says Brown:
What I'm fearful of is that
there are going to be an awful lot of people, small organisations - not these big tech giants -- who are going to face pretty chunky legal bills trying to work out if they are in scope and, if so, what they need to do.
A court in the Indian state of Kerala confirms that watching porn in private is perfectly legal in the state
|12th September 2023
article from thehindustangazette.com
The Kerala High Court has recently passed a significant judgment declaring that watching pornography in private without sharing or exhibiting it to others is not an offence under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to the sale,
distribution, and display of obscene material.
Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, while delivering the judgment in the case of Aneesh v State of Kerala, asserted that an individual's private choice to view explicit content in their personal space should not be
subject to legal interference, as it would violate their right to privacy. This ruling clarifies that watching explicit content privately, whether in the form of photos or videos on a mobile device, does not fall within the purview of Section 292
IPC. The court made it clear that this provision only applies when someone attempts to circulate, distribute, or publicly exhibit such material.
In a specific case where an individual was charged under Section 292 for watching explicit videos on his
mobile phone in a public place, the court quashed the case, emphasizing the necessity of concrete evidence to establish the offense.
The Online Censorship Bill has now been passed by the House of Lords with weak promises about not breaking user security
|9th September 2023
See article from eff.org
The U.K.'s Online Safety Bill has passed a critical final stage in the House of Lords, and envisions a potentially vast scheme to surveil internet users.
The bill would empower the U.K. government, in certain situations, to demand
that online platforms use government-approved software to search through all users' photos, files, and messages, scanning for illegal content. Online services that don't comply can be subject to extreme penalties, including criminal penalties.
Such a backdoor scanning system can and will be exploited by bad actors. It will also produce false positives, leading to false accusations of child abuse that will have to be resolved. That's why the bill is incompatible with
end-to-end encryption--and human rights. EFF has strongly opposed this bill from the start.
Now, with the bill on the verge of becoming U.K. law, the U.K. government has sheepishly acknowledged that it may not be able to make use
of some aspects of this law. During a final debate over the bill, a representative of the government said that orders to scan user files can be issued only where technically feasible, as determined by Ofcom, the U.K.'s telecom regulatory agency. He also
said any such order must be compatible with U.K. and European human rights law.
That's a notable step back, since previously the same representative, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said in a letter to the House of Lords that the
technology that would magically make invasive scanning co-exist with end-to-end encryption already existed . We have seen companies develop such solutions for platforms with end-to-end encryption before, wrote Lord Parkinson in that letter.
Now, Parkinson has come quite close to admitting that such technology does not, in fact, exist. On Tuesday, he said :
There is no intention by the Government to weaken the encryption technology used
by platforms, and we have built strong safeguards into the Bill to ensure that users' privacy is protected.
If appropriate technology which meets these requirements does not exist, Ofcom cannot require its use. That is why the
powers include the ability for Ofcom to require companies to make best endeavors to develop or source a new solution.
The same day that these public statements were made, news outlets reported that the U.K. government
privately acknowledged that there is no technology that could examine end-to-end encrypted messages while respecting user privacy.
People Need Privacy, Not Weak Promises
Let's be clear: weak statements by government ministers, such as the hedging from Lord Parkinson during this week's debate, are no substitute for real privacy rights.
Nothing in the law's text has changed. The
bill gives the U.K. government the right to order message and photo-scanning, and that will harm the privacy and security of internet users worldwide. These powers, enshrined in Clause 122 of the bill, are now set to become law. After that, the regulator
in charge of enforcing the law, Ofcom, will have to devise and publish a set of regulations regarding how the law will be enforced.
Several companies that provide end-to-end encrypted services have said they will withdraw from the
U.K. if Ofcom actually takes the extreme choice of requiring examination of currently encrypted messages. Those companies include Meta-owned WhatsApp, Signal, and U.K.-based Element, among others.
While it's the last minute,
Members of Parliament still could introduce an amendment with real protections for user privacy, including an explicit protection for real end-to-end encryption.
Failing that, Ofcom should publish regulations that make clear that
there is no available technology that can allow for scanning of user data to co-exist with strong encryption and privacy.
Finally, lawmakers in other jurisdictions, including the United States, should take heed of the embarrassing
result of passing a law that is not just deceptive, but unhinged from computational reality. The U.K. government has insisted that through software magic, a system in which they can examine or scan everything will also somehow be a privacy-protecting
system. Faced with the reality of this contradiction, the government has turned to an 11th hour campaign to assure people that the powers it has demanded simply won't be used.
Federal judges block internet censorship laws about to commence in Texas and Arkansas
See article from therecord.media
Hours before controversial internet censorship laws were set to take effect in Texas and Arkansas, two federal judges granted preliminary injunctions temporarily blocking them.
The more narrow Texas law sought to restrict minors from accessing content
that is meant for adults. The law in particular required age/ID verification to access porn websites. It was opposed by free speech groups and adult performer industry groups.
The Arkansas law, known as the Social Media Safety Act, is broader and
would prevent minors from creating accounts without parental permission on platforms earning more than $100 million a year. The tech industry trade group NetChoice, which represents Google, Meta and TikTok, among others, sued in June to block the law on
the grounds that it is unconstitutional and would place an onerous burden on digital platforms. In Arkansas, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks sided with NetChoice , saying that the law is not targeted to address the harms it has identified, and
further research is necessary before the State may begin to construct a regulation that is narrowly tailored to address the harms that minors face due to prolonged use of certain social media. Brooks added that age--gating social media platforms does not
seem to be an effective approach when, in reality, it is the content on particular platforms that is driving the State's true concerns.
The more narrow Texas law seeking to stop minors from accessing adult content online was temporarily blocked
Thursday by District Judge David Alan Ezra in a move that the Free Speech Coalition said in a press release will protect citizens from facing a chilling effect on legally-protected speech.
The temporary injunctions block the laws from taking
effect until further adjudication. It is unclear whether both Arkansas and Texas intend to appeal.
The Australian Government finds that age assurance technologies are immature, and present privacy, security, implementation and enforcement risks
|31st August 2023
See article from
See report [pdf] from infrastructure.gov.au
The Australian Government has been researching the way forward for age verification requirements for porn websites. Unlike the UK government who only 'think about the children', the Australian Government have also been thinking of the data protection and
security risks to porn users who's ID data will inevitably find its way into the wrong hands.
The government writes in surprisingly hard hitting report. The Roadmap to Age Verification is a document produced by Australia's eSafety Commissioner. The
document includes the paragraph:
The Roadmap finds age assurance technologies are immature, and present privacy, security, implementation and enforcement risks
describes measures which could determine a person’s age to a high level of accuracy, such as by using official government identity documents. However, the Roadmap examines the use of broader ‘age assurance’ technologies which include measures that
perform ‘age estimation’ functions. The Roadmap notes action already underway by industry to introduce and improve age assurance and finds that the market for age assurance products is immature, but developing.
It is clear from
the Roadmap that at present, each type of age verification or age assurance technology comes with its own privacy, security, effectiveness and implementation issues.
For age assurance to be effective, it must:
• work reliably
• be comprehensively implemented, including where pornography is hosted outside of Australia’s jurisdiction; and
• balance privacy and security, without introducing risks to the personal information of adults who choose to
access legal pornography.
Age assurance technologies cannot yet meet all these requirements. While industry is taking steps to further develop these technologies, the Roadmap finds that the age assurance market is, at this time,
The Roadmap makes clear that a decision to mandate age assurance is not ready to be taken.
US internet censorship laws are having a knock on effect of restricting free speech about adult issues
See article from
The Free Speech Coalitions warns porn websites about a new internet censorship law starting 1st September in Texas
|25th August 2023
See article from freespeechcoalition.com
The Texas age-verification and labeling law is scheduled to take effect September 1, 2023. While multiple age-verification laws have taken effect this year, Texas will join Louisiana in allowing direct government enforcement.
According to the law, the
Attorney General may fine a site with adult content $10,000 per day, and up to $250,000 if it fails to adequately verify the age of visitors and a minor is able to access it.
Additionally, the Texas law requires all adult sites to affix warning
messages to any page with adult content stating the supposed harms of viewing adult material. These 'warnings' are as follows:
TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WARNING:
Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, is proven to harm human brain development, desensitizes brain reward circuits, increases conditioned responses, and weakens brain function.
to this content is associated with low self-esteem and body image, eating disorders, impaired brain development, and other emotional and mental illnesses.
Pornography increases the demand for prostitution, child exploitation,
and child pornography.
Free Speech Coalition and a collection of leading adult platforms have filed a legal challenge to the Texas law, including a motion for preliminary injunction. While we are hopeful the challenge will succeed, and that a decision will be
made prior to the start of enforcement, all members should be aware of the law and the risks of non-compliance. Alison Boden, Executive Director of Free Speech Coalition said:
This is a blatantly unconstitutional law,
but the stakes are high for individual adult businesses with websites accessible in the state of Texas. We urge every platform and creator to review their potential exposure to legal liability with their legal counsel.
Coalition has created landing pages for platforms that geo-block access to their sites from within the state of Texas , as it has in other states that have instituted
age verification. The page explains why the site is blocked, and provides an avenue for residents to contact their representatives. However, geo-blocking a state does not necessarily provide safe harbor from the law.
The law, including the
required age-verification methods and the legal warning stipulated, are available here .
ASA dismisses complaints about a poster for an OnlyFans model
|25th August 2023
See article from asa.org.uk
A poster, seen during June and July 2023, featured an image of the top half of model and influencer Eliza Rose Watson posing in a bra top. Text stated @ ELIZAROSEWATSON with the logos of the OnlyFans and Instagram social media platforms.
The ASA received 30 complaints:
1. All the complainants, who understood that OnlyFans was an internet content subscription service which featured sexual adult content, challenged whether the ad was
inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where children could see it.
2. Many of the complainants, who believed the ad was overly sexualised and objectified women, also challenged whether the ad was offensive, harmful and
Eliza Rose Watson said the ad adhered to advertising guidelines and reflected trends in leading brands. The development process took over a month, during which she ensured the ad was tailored to avoid offensiveness
to mature viewers and intrigue to the younger generation. The image selected was evaluated by a diverse group, beyond those in the glamour industry. It was deemed to be non-suggestive, not harmful and less provocative than mainstream lingerie or perfume
brand advertisements. Ms Watson provided examples of ads for clothing and condom brands which she believed were shown in busier areas of London. She said that, in her experience of social media channels, radio and TV discussions, a significant majority
of consumers did not find the ad offensive.
The ad deliberately omitted any explicit website link or call to action, which was intended to veil the OnlyFans platform from those who may not be aware of it or wished to engage with
it. The use of the OnlyFans logo was consistent with its appearance in mainstream media. Ms Watson provided images of a racing car and boxer showing the OnlyFans logo being featured on their clothing and car.
Amplify Outdoor said
they never intended to cause offense by placing the ads but simply wished to provide a voice to a legitimate business that wanted to use their network. They believed most of the negative comments came with the increased media attention at the beginning
of July. They said they had received one complaint direct.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
The ad featured an image of Eliza Rose Watson wearing a bra top which showed her cleavage. Her hair
was tousled over her face and her mouth was slightly open. The ASA considered that although her clothing was revealing, the image did not feature any nudity, and the pose adopted by Ms Watson was no more than mildly sexual.
also featured the Instagram and OnlyFans logos. We understood that the OnlyFans platform featured various kinds of creative content posted by subscribers to its service, including adult sexual content. Therefore, the image of Ms Watson would be
particularly relevant to the OnlyFans service, and in keeping with some of its usual content. Both the Instagram and OnlyFans logos were the standard company logos which people who were familiar with those platforms would be familiar with seeing.
Although the OnlyFans website featured explicit adult content, the ad did not feature any explicit imagery. The ad promoted Ms Watson and her business on online platforms. It did not contain anything which indicated an exploitative or degrading scenario
or tone. While we acknowledged that the image of Ms Watson and reference to OnlyFans might be distasteful to some, we considered that because the ad was not overtly sexual and did not objectify women, we therefore concluded it was unlikely to cause
serious or widespread offence.
The ad was shown on several posters throughout London, which was an untargeted medium, and was therefore likely to be seen by a large number of people, including children. However, because we
considered the ad was not overtly sexual and did not objectify women, we therefore concluded the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and had not been placed irresponsibly.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code
(Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 4.1 and 4.9 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
The US state of Arkansas enacts an internet censorship law to mandate ID verification for both porn and social media
|3rd August 2023
See article from aclu.org
See article from theverge.com
Arkansas recently passed the Social Media Safety Act , which requires every person to verify their age before they can access existing social media accounts or create new ones. If a user cannot show they are at least 18 years old using a commercially
reasonable age verification method -- potentially including biometric screening or requiring government-issued ID -- the law requires them to obtain parental consent to use social media.
If allowed to go into effect, the Arkansas law would prohibit
users from accessing social media anonymously or under a pen name. Age verification requirements can deter even adults from engaging on social media because they worry about sharing additional personal data with social media companies, which could misuse
the information or get hacked. And those who don't have government-issued identification -- undocumented immigrants, for example -- might be unable to access social media at all. Additionally, the parental consent requirement violates kids' rights to
speak and receive information as well as adults' right to hear what they have to say.
The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law saying:
We urge the Western District of Arkansas to protect adults'
and kids' right to access social media. We all have the right to speak and read about everything from upcoming protests to violin tips to challenging Arkansas' law.
Meanwhile Pornhab as responded to the new law by blocking all access
from IP addresses associated with Arkansas. The Arkansas law, SB 66, doesn't ban Pornhub from operating in the state, but it requires porn sites to verify that a user is 18 by confirming their age with identifying documents. Pornhub blocked all
traffic from IP addresses based in Arkansas in protest, arguing that the law, which was intended to protect children, actually harms users. The blocked website currently just displays a message explaining the actions:
While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.
The Government announces a new review that will surely be a one-sided affair inviting moralists and campaigners to whinge about porn
See press release from gov.uk
The UK government is reviewing porn censorship laws for adults, moving beyond the age verification requirements proposed in the current Online Censorship Bill.
No doubt the 'review' will be a one-sided whinge-fest soliciting the views of moralists,
censors and law enforcers, whilst totally ignoring the views of film makers and viewers.
The Government writes:
Regulation of online pornography in the UK will undergo a thorough review to make sure it is fit for purpose in
tackling exploitation and abuse, the government has announced today (Monday 3 July).
As the way we consume media and access content rapidly changes, the Review will investigate any gaps in UK regulation which allows exploitation
and abuse to take place online as well as identifying barriers to enforcing criminal law. While the criminal law has been updated in recent years to tackle the presence of extreme and revenge pornography, there are currently different regimes that
address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, such as videos, and online. The government wants to ensure any pornography legislation and regulation operates consistently for all pornographic content.
The review will also look at how effective the criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies are in responding to illegal pornographic content, including considering if any changes need to be made to criminal law to address
challenges law enforcement might have.
It will also consider what more can be done to provide children with information and resources about the harm caused by pornography. This will make sure that illegal and harmful content, such
as that which features child sexual abuse and exploitation, or where adults are being exploited, is robustly dealt with.
The Pornography Review is a prompt response to calls for action from parliamentarians and campaign groups
concerned with the prevalence and impact on both children and adults of illegal pornographic content and child sexual exploitation and abuse on pornography sites and social media.
This work is separate to, but builds on, the
Online Safety Bill, which will hold social media companies and pornography services accountable for ensuring children cannot view pornography, with a new higher standard on the age verification or age estimation tools they must use.
Technology Minister, Paul Scully, said:
Keeping the public safe is the first priority of any government and with technology moving faster than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball in exploring
what more we can do.
Our Pornography Review will look closely at the laws and regulations relating to offline and online content, informing our next steps in tackling the heinous crimes of exploitation and abuse,
wherever it occurs.
'Justice' Minister, Ed Argar, said:
It is vital we keep up with the pace of the online world and this review will help ensure our laws work to protect people online while
punishing those who share illegal and harmful content.
The Review will seek expertise across government and significant engagement with the Crown Prosecution Service and police, industry, civil society stakeholders
The review will also look at the role of the pornography industry in trafficking and exploiting adult performers, child sexual exploitation and abuse,Â and how extreme and non-consensual pornographic content
online is dealt with.
There are currently several criminal offences, linked to legislation such as the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the extreme porn offence at s63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008,Â which
can be committed in relation to all pornographic material,Â whether offline or online. Some pornographic material is covered by communications offences and offences which deal with publicly displayed material in shops and other premises.
Separately, there is a very robust regime of offences tackling the possession, taking and making of indecent images of children, whether they are photographs / films, or non-photographic.
There are also
different regulatory regimes, includingÂ that established by the Video Recordings Act 1984, which address the publication and distribution of commercial pornographic material offline, and the video-sharing platform regime that addressesÂ some
online pornography. Notes to editors
The Review will involve a range of government departments, including the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department for Culture,
Media and Sport.
Further scope of the Review will be set out in due course.
The Review is aiming to be completed within a year.
Fans will have to use a VPN to access Pornhub in Virginia
|1st July 2023
See article from
One of the most visited sites in the world, Pornhub, has blocked users in Virginia over the state's new age verification law.
The new law taking effect July 1 now requires websites with pornographic content being viewed in Virginia to verify that
users are at least 18 years old before they can view the site. The law, proposed by Republican state Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (Franklin), sailed through the Virginia General Assembly.
Pornhub decided that it would be blocking all Virginia users
rather than try to implement unsafe and privacy endangering age verification.
Pornhub wrote in a message to those attempting to log in:
The safety of our users is one of our biggest concerns. We believe that the
best and most effective solution for protecting children and adults alike is to identify users by their device and allow access to age-restricted materials and websites based on that identification.
Until a real solution is
offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Virginia.'