Only child porn lovers want to fight internet censorship?

June 22, 2009

Listening to friends of censorship nowadays, you’d suppose that only lovers of child pornography would say NO to internet censorship. However, that can’t be true. Defenders of internet freedom are everywhere, but they might be beginning to feel like they are in the minority. Why would they defend access to child porn?

Despite massive citizen protests,   Germany has begun its   program of internet censorship , citing an urgent need to deal with child pornography, joining   Scandinavian countries.     France     is not far behind Germany . The   Internet Watch Foundation maintains the   United Kingdom blacklist , mostly about child porn.

The release of     Denmark     ‘s secret list of blocked websites , which included many websites having nothing to do with minors, remains a huge embarrassment.

    Australia     ‘s attempt at internet censorship over child porn   has slowed down , although the Denmark blacklist is now on the list of banned websites too—the content on   the Denmark blacklist is illegal to publish or link to in Australia

    Finland     ‘s secret blacklist started with child porn but included others, such as a website protesting censorship. 

  Iran started its massive program of   internet censorship over child pornography , according to the Wall Street Journal.     Thailand     ‘s history of internet censorship is similar to Iran’s—child porn first, and political and religious speech next.

In the United States, the erosion of free speech and information may begin with child pornography too. Censorship of websites advocating violence against abortion doctors, or websites advocating hate speech and hate crimes, might lead the censorship agenda as well. But this issue is coming to America, and coming fast.



#1 Gerry Dantone (Guest) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 at 9:29am

I have no problem with the regulation or outlawing or censoring of pornography that involves minors (I would not include animated depictions of children in this).  The obvious criteria is that minors are not competent to ratify agreements such as contracts.  They are not treated as consenting adults in many areas of law.

Enforcement of contracts is a legitimate area of government regulation as is regulation of the rights and safety of minors.  We do this for animals, we should do this for children.  This is truly a no-brainer.

Censoring of material created for and with consenting, informed adults is another matter entirely.  I don’t see that there is a slippery slope that gets us from minors to consenting adults.

#2 DagoRed (Guest) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 at 7:47pm

As shown in the recent attempt in Iran to keep people from communicating through the Internet—there is really no way to stop it because national secrets and military directives commingle with email and pornography on every data channel out there.  In Iran’s case, one of the most heavily regulated Internet countries in the world, a few impromptu proxy servers set up in the houses of a few ex-pats in the US and Europe undermined the entire Iranian national effort to censor media reports coming out of that country.  Also, with the rise in cellular satellite availability the communications networks themselves are often completely out of the control of virtually all national authorities (again, Iran and cellphone photos are a sign of this changing tide).  I would agree there is a “arms” race of a kind between technology advancement and the efforts of national authorities to control and restrict data communications (e.g. under this child porn banner)—but, frankly, from my perspective as one who works in this exact field, the current levels of basic technology in the hands of average people today can often defeat most national authority’s efforts to block and control the flow of any information.  Moreover, at the higher end levels of technology used by international banks and corporations, this subversion is complete; they have long buried the ability of any national agency (even those of the US government) to stop open data flows to the rest of the world.  You are correct, all of this current anti-child porn legislation is a smoke screen, for sure, but it hide a crack down on freedom of speech and establish general censorship of the Internet—it’s to crack down on illegal entertainment (music, movie, software) downloads which are devastating those industries (and, as a very small side benefit to also curtail child porn too—but, likely, not by much).  From a political P/R standpoint, it’s just far easier to get people to rally around a bill that claims to want to stop child pornography, than it is to whip people up into a frenzied support for a bill that claims it wants to stop our teenagers from bankrupting Hollywood, Microsoft, and the entire music industry.

#3 Benjamin Radford on Wednesday June 24, 2009 at 11:56am

Too true… nothing narrows minds and rallies the troops like the call to “Protect the children!” Otherwise intelligent parents and elected officials trip over themselves trying to protect kids from any and all dangers, no matter how remote (see my article last year in Skeptical Inquirer, “Predator Panic.”)

#4 Nairb on Thursday June 25, 2009 at 5:13am

If freedom of speech means allowing Kid pornography on Internet , you may as well have it on your local tv station and newspaper for the same reason.

This is crazy in my opinion.

The right of Free speech is not an end in itself. It is ameans to an end.
Free speech exists to enable a fair and just society grounded in reality with as much equality for all as is feasible.

Enabling “free speech” of this nature only leads to an infringement of the rights and freedoms of the children who appear in those pictures.

What people want is a fair and just society not a “free speech” society.

#5 Rod (Guest) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 at 3:00pm

Child pornography is both anecdotal and sickening. I know the worry here is slippery slope, but seriously, that’s not a part of the slope to be concerned with. There’s biological reasons for being attracted to a developed adolescent, but there’s something psychologically wrong with being attracted to prepubescent youth.

#6 DagoRed (Guest) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 at 11:35am

Holy crap! I change my view—John Shuck is totally correct after all!  Case in point….

Here we have a couple of comments that are prime examples of exactly how terms like “child-porn”, once mentioned, completely blind some otherwise intelligent people from actually understanding the real topic at hand.

This is precisely why our politicians use such charged sound-bites, and why the legislation mentioned above may be potentially dangerous to many civil liberties around the world.  No politician ever wants to go on record as the one who voted against the “stop child porn act of 2009”—precisely because too many voters will likely fail to see the forest for the trees.  By placing “Stop Child Porn” in the title, many will simply miss the finer but more important details, like a politician’s entirely noble goal to block other rider-legislation attached to such an act that might have, for example, outlawed spitting on sidewalks,  growing petunias, or outlawing medical care for the poor.  That’s the nature of the fine print on ALL legislation - you can’t simply go by the title!

Sorry for the rant, but it’s frustrating to see some people so utterly misinterpret a simple blog post—it reinforces a pessimistic notion my darker side often supports; that democracy is likely a force for Evil because too many people, despite their perfectly good intellects, are too emotionally-challenged to govern themselves effectively.

#7 wbthacker on Thursday July 02, 2009 at 3:54pm

I think the issue here is not “whether we should ban child porn on the internet,” but rather, “Do we wan to grant the government with the power to ban any website it wants and trust that they will only use it ban child porn?”

Civil libertarians and libertarians would probably categorically answer “No” to the second question.

Myself, I think an open government *can* be trusted with that power, provided certain verifications are in place.  Specifically, the list has to be public knowledge so that everyone can see what’s being banned, and a simple process to appeal a ban has to be in place.  And all this has to be open to public scrutiny.

The flaws with that proposal:

- How can I verify whether site X is truly illegal once my government has blocked me from seeing it?
- bureaucracies have a talent for finding ways to abuse their powers and get away with it.  Why take the chance?

#8 gray1 on Friday July 03, 2009 at 4:56pm

Local Big Brother somehow manages to bust people who have “child porn” on their computers and actually put them in jail for it.  While the material in question has not been released to the public to form their own judgements thereupon, I must suppose it’s like the judge once said, “I know it when I see it.”

Do these idiots suppose that all material viewed on their internet is not automatically documented and data mined for such content if that’s what the authorities want?  It just doesn’t pay to be overly curious now days, someone might decide that you’re just too perverted to remain free in society.

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