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The great British porn filter

By on Jul 23, 2013 in Blog, Rant, Technology | 1 comment

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“No sex please, we’re British” couldn’t be more appropriate, as David Cameron and his conservative loonies decided that the best way to “think of the children” was to block porn for a whole nation.

I’m going to stick my neck out here though, and say that all men with an interest in sex have watched porn online. That may not be all men, but I’m going to bet it’s pretty much all of them. I don’t know about women, I am not one, but I imagine lots of them have watched porn online too. For all I know, it might be just as many.

Based on that, blocking all porn for all people means that somewhere between 50 per cent and, let’s say, 99 per cent of all adults in the UK will now no longer be able to access something they like, without admitting they like it to their ISP.

I can think of hundreds of reasons this is bad. I can think of very few plus sides. But for the sake of a rounded argument, let’s take a moment to think about how this affects children. We must also agree that porn is harmful to children, and that it affects how they think of sex. I haven’t seen any evidence either way on that, but even if it’s true, the porn filter won’t be able to kill porn. And here’s why.

You can get porn on newsgroups and torrent sites. Torrent sites can be members-only, and their listings and torrents will be kept between members of that site. There is no way to police membership of sites that share torrents, and no administrator running those sites is going to give a shit. So that’s your first problem.

Newsgroups are another problem, although they’re a problem that’s reducing as it becomes necessary to have a paid subscription to use the “long retention” servers that hold binaries. This is sort of an outdated model now, although newsgroups remain a solid way to get porn along with all the other staples of youth, nicked MP3s, movies and TV shows.

IRC is another solid place for the distribution of anything at all. There, as has always been the case, kids at university with massively quick connections host access to any sort of file you want, TV, Movies or, probably, porn.

I’m prepared to bet that David Cameron and his fistfull of fuckwits have never heard of newsgroups, and it’s a fair bet they haven’t heard about IRC either. Martha Lane Fox is some sort of tech envoy to the government, but I doubt she knows much about any of this either. To really get to grips with the dark bit of the internet, you have to have inhabited it to some extent. They have not.

But the porn block also doesn’t really help protect people from Reddit images, Imgur and even Facebook and Twitter could be brilliant porn distribution tools if you really wanted to be. Set up a Twitter account and call it “@ShareGrot and make it private, followers then get tweeted links to encrypted RAR files that contain porn. Facebook too has great potential to be used for groups which might look innocuous enough, but send out links to video or images hosted around the web, or torrent files – which need no expensive central server. Then there’s email, good old email, and text messages, and instant messenger. These are all places where people might distribute porn too.

But let’s ignore why a porn block can’t and won’t work, and think about kids. I’ll tell you about what it’s like to be a boy growing up. I bet girls are the same, because let’s face it, evolution means we’re on earth for one thing only – furthering the species. There’s only way to make more people, and that’s through sexy times.

In order to make people procreate, your body needs to be interested in doing the thing that makes the babies. If making babies was achieved through doing the washing up, the human race would have died out before it began, because, firstly, we didn’t develop kitchens until quite a long time after we stopped being chimps, but mostly because no one likes washing up, and there’s no orgasm at the end – unless I’m doing it wrong.

So sex is fun, and teenagers think about it almost exclusively. Mostly that means that images that contain naked pictures of the sex they find attractive are very appealing. Asking adolescents not to hunt out sexual gratification is like asking bees not to mess about in pollen. It’s contrary to the whole of evolution, and it would be a disaster.

As a parent, I’m also keen to protect my offspring as much as possible. But that job is mine, not the government’s. And my plan is the following: don’t leave kids alone with the internet until they’re old enough to grasp what they’re doing. I also intend to try and help them through those tricky times with as much advice as I can make them listen to without them rolling their eyes and storming off to their bedrooms. But, if I’ve done my job, they won’t need advice, they’ll have the skills to make their own informed decisions.

Oh, and one last thing. Say you managed to hide all the porn, there’s still a whole internet out there filled with hate, vitriol and the worst of human nature. How do we protect our children from that? By being parents to them, that’s how. The hangup with porn is ridiculous and follows the western idea that somehow, sex is worse than violence and hatred. If you could get rid of the sexism, racism and just outright nastiness online that would have more of a positive impact on our children than stopping them looking at boobs and cocks.

What worries me more is how our sons are being raised. Go to ANY YouTube video with featuring a woman, and watch the sickening comments pile in. That does more harm to our young women than a bit of videoed consensual sex, and it’s something that’s likely to affect every teenager in the country.

1 Comment

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