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Iceland’s proposed porn ban ‘like repression in Iran, N. Korea’ – activists

Published time: March 01, 2013 10:39
AFP Photo

AFP Photo

A group of 40 human rights activists from around the world fear that Iceland could become “a role model for Internet censorship” if it introduces Internet filters blocking online content deemed pornographic.

“The act of censoring pornography in Iceland differs in no way from repression of speech in Iran, China or North Korea,” human rights advocates wrote in an open letter to Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson.

Activists from nearly 20 countries, including the UK, America, Austria and Finland, said that Iceland’s moral reasons for the push to censor Internet pornography is “justifying rather than condemning the actions of totalitarian regimes.”

Critics – including Jillian C. York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sunil Abraham, Executive Director for India’s Internet and Society Center, and Ot van Daalen, head of the Dutch Bits of Freedom Center – have described the controversial measure as “an affront to basic principles of the society.”

They also argued that those advocating the Web porn ban have offered “no definition, no evidence, and suggested no technology.”

The authors of the letter warned that the prohibition of pornographic content could create demand for an underground porn industry, unregulated and most certainly affiliated with other illegal activities, “as we have seen in the case of drugs or alcohol prohibition. Hiding the problem is not a solution and may in fact make things worse.”

The solution, according to the activists, could be better sex education at home and schools: “Sex education that deals not only with conception, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, but also relationships, communication and respect.”

Iceland, known for its feminist policies, could become the first Western country to censor online pornography, despite concerns over who will be given the authority to choose what is banned.

“It is tempting to regard filtering the Internet as a quick and easy way to restrict unwanted speech, opinions, or media, which the government regards as harmful for either them or the people,” the letter said. “The right to see the world as it is, is critical to the very tenets and functions of a democracy and must be protected at all costs.”

The activists claimed that it is technically impossible to censor the Internet without monitoring all telecommunications with automated machines: “This level of government surveillance directly conflicts with the idea of a free society.”

Iceland is not the only European country that has tried to implement such a ban. In December, the UK proposed blocking access to all pornographic websites, but UK ministers rejected the idea over a lack of public support.

According to supporters of the Icelandic ban, pornography has unquestionably damaging effects on both children and women.

"We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,"
Interior Minister Jonasson, the author of the proposed ban, was quoted as saying.

While Iceland has already passed a law banning the distribution and printing of pornography, the proposed ban would eventually restrict access to pornographic websites in the country, and make it impossible to use Icelandic credit cards on X-rated sites.

Comments (2)

 

aeris bueller 08.02.2014 21:19

hopefully someone is keeping track of their rape and molestation statistics, so future nations can prevent such an idiotic move when they say how enforcing thought crimes does nothing for anyone

Anonymous user 12.03.2013 22:06

Iceland is on the right track to limit societal decay. Keep up the good work.

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