Tuesday, January 27, 2009

U.K. Extreme Porn Law in Effect - Sort Of

From our friends at AVN:

Report: UK Police Won't Actively Pursue 'Extreme Porn' Law

Watching violent porn does not lead to violence, opponents argue.

LONDON - Despite a newly enacted UK law cracking down on extreme porn, British police say they will not seek out owners of violent pornography unless there is "due cause".
Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 was passed following British mother Liz Longhurst's three-year campaign to curb violent sex videos. Longhurst's schoolteacher daughter Jane was murdered by Graham Coutts, a man who collected extreme porn.

The law criminalizes the possession of pornographic material that depicts necrophilia, bestiality, or life-threatening or body-injuring violence. Offenders face a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

According to British news sources, the Ministry of Justice has predicted few national prosecutions and placed responsibility for enforcing the law on local police departments.

"The police will not be actively targeting members of the public but will be conducting investigations into the unlawful possession of this material where found," Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers said in a statement to the press.

A 2007 British government review of research concluded extreme pornography can be linked to violence and pro-rape attitudes among the men who view it excessively. But opponents argue that the legislation will lead only to "harmless criminals and victimless crimes."

"People who abuse may look at extreme images, but looking at the pictures doesn't make you like that," said Clair Lewis, a spokesperson for the Consenting Adult Action Network.

Lewis called Coutts' murder of Longhurst "abysmal," but added that blaming violent actions on viewing pictures from the Internet is just a murderer's or rapist's "excuse."

"If this law had been in place a few years ago, it wouldn't have saved Jane," she said. "We're fighting a really emotive battle here, but there is no evidence that this law will work."

Likewise, the British free speech and human rights group Backlash sees the law as well-meaning but misguided.

"The law is infantilizing women and sets men up as rapists and this does nothing for gender relations," said spokesperson Alex Dymock. "Some fairly innocent images are going to be liable for prosecution with this law and I don't believe it will save any lives."

From reading this, it would seem that this noxious piece of legislative pandering is more symbol than substance, but I wouldn't count on it. Bad law, once on the books, has a history of abuse. Sooner or later, somebody will end up getting busted over possession of pictures.

And at the very least, the proponents of this nonsense will be crowing about their great victory over "the pimp lobby" and will be thus encouraged to pursue the infliction of their agenda through legislative means elsewhere.

It's never reassureing when cops say: "Don't worry about this silly law. We won't really enforce it anyway."

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Good News for a Change -COPA is History

This is it folks. A major piece of legislative bullshit dating back to the Clinton era dies at the hands of a conservative Supreme Court. Who would have thought it?

Here are the details:

WASHINGTON — A federal law intended to restrict children's access to Internet pornography died quietly Wednesday at the Supreme Court, more than 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly approved it.

The Child Online Protection Act would have barred Web sites from making harmful content available to minors over the Internet. The law had been embroiled in challenges to its constitutionality since it passed in 1998 and never took effect.

The Internet blocking law did not make it as far as a high court hearing. The justices rejected the government's final attempt to revive the law, turning away the appeal without comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union led the challenge to the law on behalf of writers, artists and health educators. "For over a decade the government has been trying to thwart freedom of speech on the Internet, and for years the courts have been finding the attempts unconstitutional," said Chris Hansen, the ACLU's lead attorney on the case. "It is not the role of the government to decide what people can see and do on the Internet. Those are personal decisions that should be made by individuals and their families."

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia earlier ruled that the law would violate the First Amendment, saying filtering technologies and other parental control tools are a less restrictive way to protect children from inappropriate content online.

The act was passed the year after the Supreme Court ruled that another law intended to protect children from explicit material online - the Communications Decency Act - was unconstitutional.

The Bush administration had fought hard to have the law take effect.

In 2006, the Justice Department subpoenaed internal files from dozens of Internet service providers and other technology firms, including AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., EarthLink Inc., Symantec Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. as part of its defense of the law.

But senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. ruled in 2007 that software filters work much better than the law would. Reed also said the law failed to address threats that have emerged since it was written - including online predators on social-networking sites - because it targets only commercial Web publishers.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld Reed's ruling.

Critics also said that pornographers and others could simply base their operations offshore, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.

In an earlier test of the law, the Supreme Court in 2004 upheld an order blocking its enforcement on the grounds that the law probably was unconstitutional. The five justices who made that ruling remain on the court.

Still, it was unusual for the court to kill a major federal law that had an administration's backing, without a hearing.

The case is Mukasey v. ACLU. 08-565.

So, one less bogus attempt to regulate speech in the name of "protecting the children" runs head-first into The Constitution and gets flattened.

Let's hope it's a real precedent and not an anomaly.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

sex workers- once again, what's best for us:

As you may or not may be aware, under the auspices of a woman named Jacqui Smith, the UK is considering a law that will criminalize the purchase of sexual services, namely, men who participate in, as they call it in the UK, “kerb crawling” (street based work). As usual, the evidence Smith is basing her proposal off of is questionable, but the proposed law is there none the less.

A blogger and ally Caroline, who is in the UK, has written extensively about the downsides of this law, and what very real consequences and potential consequences it has on sex workers of all kinds within the UK, she was even given quest posts at the UK based the F-Word and a US blog, Feministe!

The responses to her posts were, how shall I say, typical, and the reaction to her stance on the matter, equally so. Both Caroline and sex workers who bothered to participate were bogged down by generally radical leaning feminists with countless issues not necessarily germane to the legal issue at hand, shouted down as “unthinking”, “idiots”, or “happy hookers”…

I have to ask, to those of you who have met me and what not, do I generally come across as Teeheeeheee I can by Prada woo-hoo happy? Do most sex workers? Umm, no. Yet this is, consistently, how any who disagree with the pervading theme of repression of sex workers are written off and thusly discounted.

But as usual, those of us who oppose Swedish-like models, even considering the troublesome evidence that has shown such models to be far from perfect and the words of actual sex workers, as is typical, we are a tiny minority who truly know nothing about our business and do not care about all the poor trafficked women and girls. Which is bullshit, and I note, these people so concerned, from feminist anti sex work people to world governments, find it far more easy to criminalize the people who buy sex and attempt to play (often unwanted) savior to the people who sell it than to actually go after criminal organizations that deal in trafficking or take on the underlying causes, such as lack of education, poverty, drug abused, and lack of other job opportunities that face people who are unwillingly involved in prostitution…but apparently that is too hard and too messy…it’s easier to play Capitan save a ho.

I’ve also noted, in this particular latest round and in countless others, the apparent need of these people to demonize any and all sex worker outreach/activist programs which do not tout a 100% exit / prohibition stance. Currently, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and International Union of Sexworkers (IUSW) are under attack by supporters of the proposed UK law. The same sorts of tactics have been used against SWOP, COYOTE, the Scarlet Alliance, and countless other Sex Worker Organizations in the past.

And while all the smoke and mud about happy hookers and how sex worker orgs don’t really care about sex workers and what about the poor trafficked women and girls (no mention of the transwomen, men and boys, for that matter) rages on one simple thing remains fact: a law which will affect countless sex workers adversely is poised to go on the books in the UK, with, best as I can tell, no input from any sex workers and no real ear to the objections of any sex workers…So once again, we have people building law and political prestige on our backs.

Now, I am not in the UK, nor are most of you, but that doesn’t mean this should not matter to us. Sex Workers in the UK are sex workers, just like us, and just as the UK looked to Sweden for inspiration, there is no guarantee where ever you are might not look to the UK for the same thing…

So yes, if you find this as annoying and patronizing and seriously ill advised as I do?

Say something, because if we don’t, nobody else will.

I’ve already said a few things

And why yes, please feel free to redistribute at will...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And Let's Not Forget the Wonderfully Progressive Regime in China

Update: Chinese government to Web companies: No porn allowed

[CNet] In what amounts to a thinly veiled legal threat, the Chinese government has intensified its campaign against sexually explicit material online by instructing companies, including Google, to curb the availability of pornography.

Monday's announcement from a collection of seven government agencies singles out 19 sites as unlawfully providing access to "vulgar content." On the list: Google's Web search and image search, Baidu.net and the company's blogging site, and Sohu.net. (Google has denied any wrongdoing.)

The announcement from the State Council Information Office is billed as a "nationwide anti-crime" initiative, and urges the public to report illicit posts and Web sites. The state-controlled China Daily said that the companies named on the list "have been found to spread pornography and threaten youth's morals." It also warns that a regulatory crackdown may be coming.

While politically themed Internet censorship in China has received most of the attention--news sites and human rights sites are frequently restricted--the country's ruling Communist Party has long been interested in stamping out smut too. A CNET News article from as far back as 1996 said that Chinese Internet users were asked to "sign a set of rules that makes it illegal for users to produce or receive pornography."

More recently, the public security ministry said in 2007 that it would target porn, online strip shows, and even erotic stories. Some of the electronic barriers came down during the Olympics last year, only to reappear in the last few weeks.

Along the way, Chinese officials have made some bizarre statements. At an international Internet summit in Athens, a government representative told an incredulous audience: "I've heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it's blocked. I'm sure I don't know why people say this kind of thing. We do not have restrictions at all." (That statement would come as a surprise to Falun Gong practitioners.)

If this were simply political speech, no doubt members of the U.S. Congress would be tempted to convene ritual hearings where China, Google, and various other companies could be ceremoniously denounced in front of the cameras. But because we're talking about porn, a Senate resolution applauding China's censorial policies is probably more likely.

Gee, maybe they'll call this "The Chinese Model." Has a nice ring to it.

Holland's Banks Join the Euro Anti-Porn Front

As predicted, in the general SDP{/Labouriet panic over the evils of all aspects of the sex biz, The Netherland, long known for its laid back attitude toward sex work, is using economic means to try and strangle it. If anyone thinks this can't happen here, I have some news - it already has. The banks in Holland have admitted they are closing down all accounts for adult buisenesses - the usual nonsense about trafficking and oranized crime of course - but banks here did this quietly to a lot of Web operators over he past six years.

Yet another example of the glories of the Swedish model, econmic version, in operation. We don't make porn and other sex work illegal. Oh no, we just make it impossible for consumers to pay for it. At least over there some organized resistance exists to combat this kind of backdoor censorship, but how effective it will be is hard to say.

If it isn't, look for some sleeper anti-porners in our wonderful new presidential administration to try more of these shenanigans on this side of the Atlantic.

National Association of Dutch Sex Companies says banks no longer want to do business with them


In a letter to Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin, [pictured] the National Association of Dutch Sex Companies says banks no longer want to do business with them. The letter says the banks intend to close existing accounts and refuse to open new ones. The banks involved are ABN AMRO, Fortis, ING, SNS and the Rabobank. Only the Postbank has refused to join the boycott.

The association says the banks are taking the action because they no longer want to be associated with firms that may be involved in money laundering and human trafficking. However, the association points out that the boycott also applies to companies that fully abide by the law.

The association says it does not object to companies or individuals that break the law being refused by the banks, but wants the government to ensure that bona fide firms are not subject to the boycott. It adds that if all firms are forced to open an account via a third party, this will make the activities of the sex industry less transparent, and points out that this is something the government has been working hard in recent years to avoid.

The association is a national organisation for brothels, swingers' clubs, massage parlours, erotic cafes, escort companies and SM studios.