Definitions of pornography to be debated

On Monday Baroness Howe published details of her latest legislative assault in defence of children. It takes the form of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment)(Definition of Extreme Pornography) Bill and is accompanied by a rather full explanatory note in the form of a blog which I commend to you.

As Lady Howe tells it there would have been no need for her new Bill if, during the last Parliament, the Government had stuck to its guns with the original version of the definition of prohibited material. But they didn’t.

There is no doubt matters got heated and confused towards the end of the previous discussions. How anyone could have thought there was even a possibility of anything in the (then) Digital Economy Bill cutting across the role or functions of the IWF is beyond me but when the General Election was called any possibility of resolving the issue satisfactorily flew straight out of the window.

Quite what will happen to Lady Howe’s new Bill as such we can only guess at. With the upcoming Internet Safety Strategy Review, the Digital Charter and all points North, South, East and West, not to mention Brexit, GDPR and the AVMSD we are all in for a busy time. However, in one form or another, the issues raised will have to be addressed so the sooner we do that the better it will be.

In her blog Lady Howe specifically refers to the issue of Computer Generated Images (CGI). Having seen some CGI in a war game recently I was absolutely convinced the characters were being played by human actors. They weren’t. They were CGI. Add to that the improvements in Augmented and Virtual Reality and we can see where the next wave of threats are coming from.  We need to be ready yet, as of now, if these sorts of materials are housed on servers based overseas, for practical purposes nothing happens to them. They remain fully accessible within the UK. That is wrong and we need to put it right in the months ahead.



About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was renewed in 2018. More:
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