Monday, 22 July 2013

Cameron's new internet filter

Cameron, in the name of protecting the little kiddies from the evils of porn, is pushing a filter on all the internet in Britain to filter out online porn. To duck around it, you have to call up your ISP and say “RAWR GIMME MAH PORN I WANNA WANK” or some such. Probably not in so many ways, but making it explicitly opt out means you have to contact your IP and expressly say you want to see the naked people which promises to be extremely embarrassing.

There are many things wrong with this.

This degree of internet control, tracking and meddling is discomforting to say the least

The fact the man who is still supporting Page 3 is also in favour of a ban on porn is indicative of who pays the Tory’s paychest

Frankly, it’s people’s damn choice if we want to watch/read/look at other nekked people doing happy adult things and we shouldn’t have to opt out of being controlled. And yes it’s sad if children see something inappropriate – well that’s what parents are for. Doing that whole parenting thing. Because believe me there’s a damn site more worrying on the internet than your children seeing some inappropriate jiggly bits.

And let’s be clear here – while the morality brigade screams about child porn (which we already have laws about), this is about all pornography – or everything that is defined as pornography. Defined by who? I have no idea. And that’s shady already – what counts as porn? This is particularly worrying to GBLT people because we’ve seen time and again videos or depictions of GBLT people considered “adult” when a similar depiction of straight people would pass anyone’s censor. Us holding hands or kissing or gay men standing too close to each other while being shirtless has been considered pornographic in the past. What is pornographic?

For that matter, what depiction of sexualised nudity is ok and what isn’t? Because at least porn is fairly honest in what it is (while still being a fairly ridiculous depiction of sex) in that it’s there for sexual titillation – unlike adverts for cars, perfume, just about everything, pop stars gyrating and other commonplace sexualisation that I’ll wager do far more damage to impressionable young minds than porno ever did – in fact, here’s some great words on the ridiculousness of being so utterly anti-sex while at the same time being so sex saturated.

Which brings me to a major complaint I have - internet filters are awful. Part of that is the aforementioned inability to adequately define porn, but part of it is that the inability for technology to recognise a porn site. Does it block a certain percentage of skin showing? Certain body parts? Certain words? Is it going to include pornographic blogs or tumblrs or flickrs or whatever else people use?

The technology is dubious to say the least. At present, various filters in the name of stopping porn block STD clinics, family planning clinics, breast feeding sites, rape crisis centres, sex advice sites like scarleteen and, of course, any site involving GBLT people. In fact, Tumblr’s filter is a prime example which is has started blocking searches for the words #gay #lesbian and #bisexual

This isn’t an isolated case, it’s what happens every single time there’s a filter – there are false positives and GBLT people inevitably get included in them because our existence is still regarded as inherently pornographic and “adult”.  And if you think a 15 year old asking their parents to take off the porn block because they want to see porn is a difficult prospect, change that to a 15 year old asking their parents to take it off because they want to see gay blogs and connect to the gay community.

It all comes back to the cities and not even subtly.