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David Cameron’s war on porn is government meddling

Spencer Lane warns that Cameron’s new plan to tackle internet pornography is a sign of populist government censorship

David Cameron and Claire Perry, the Conservatives' moral crusaders

David Cameron and Claire Perry, the Conservatives’ moral crusaders on porn. (Image by Alex Tiley).

“Will someone please think of the children?!” David Cameron will! The Prime Minister is determined to do something about internet pornography, though exactly what seems to be up in the air for now.

Currently it is looking like Mr. Cameron will block all households from accessing content deemed obscene by the government unless those households specifically request to have it available and can prove the internet users are over the age of 18; the other scheme is to get internet providers to filter what their users can access. You can read more about the various plans here.

The basic point is that the current government in Britain is manoeuvring to block access to internet pornography. In case you have never been on the internet before, pornography is readily available nearly everywhere online and is easily accessed. While it is illegal for people under the age of 18 to view pornography, this is virtually impossible to prevent on the internet.

But does this really justify what Mr. Cameron is attempting to do?

Writing this article has proven quite difficult, because I keep breaking down in fits of laughter. Is Mr. Cameron incredibly cynical or incredibly dumb? It just seems laughable to suggest that such a small problem should require such a ridiculously large and clunky solution when there already exists a much better solution.

I mean, seriously, who cares about internet porn in the first place? Well, parents do, but here is the easy solution which only takes about 10 seconds of thought: if you are concerned about internet pornography and its effect on your children, either don’t let them use the internet, or download a free internet filter (and there are many to choose from), which will prevent easy access to porn by your children.

You see? Problem solved, and all without government censorship or the violation of anyone’s privacy.

Mr. Cameron is either doing this entirely so he can win votes from easily fooled parents and the elderly or Mr. Cameron is severely technologically challenged.

Why should the government concern itself with this issue? Why should it dip its toes simultaneously into two very sensitive issues: privacy and censorship? Britons have long treasured their privacy from government intrusion, and this latest suggestion that one would have to request permission from the government and provide security details to them just to watch porn strikes right to the core of privacy issues.

Whether I or anyone else wants to enjoy internet pornography is none of the government’s business!

Likewise, who is to say what is or isn’t pornographic? The government will overnight become an arbiter of morality, taste, artistic merit, and countless other thorny issues of cultural values. What may be considered outrageous pornography in Kent might be considered an artistic masterpiece in London, and who is to say either region is incorrect?

And who is to guarantee that this government scheme is only going to be about porn? What will stop this government or the next one from deciding that other materials—books, thoughts, ideas, whatever—are no longer appropriate and will be blocked unless you specifically ask the government to let you see it? It always sounds paranoid to suggest this slippery slope argument, but if the government is allowed to censor porn for all, then the framework has been laid and the precedent created for the government to censor anything it wants by simply declaring it obscene.

Porn is a lot like drugs. While porn can cause harm when it is abused and shouldn’t be viewed by young children, many people enjoy porn in moderation without suffering any real harm. The key difference is this: parents can easily prevent their children from accessing porn. So long as children have money and free time, it might be possible for them to get drugs; their access to the internet however is much more easily controlled and monitored.

And like drugs, porn is subject to a change in attitudes.

The elderly, whose votes I suspect Mr. Cameron is courting with this measure, likely still believe that pornography is difficult and expensive to obtain and is only sought out by perverts and sailors.

But the modern ubiquity of porn—the very reason Mr. Cameron believes porn is a problem—is changing attitudes.

Most people these days, especially those with even a reasonable proficiency in computers, realise that porn is not dangerous in its own right and can be enjoyed if indulged in responsibly and in moderation.

Many millions of Britons use the internet every day for all manner of different purposes. Should we really affect the many for the sake of the few? That would be like saying all cars need to be fitted with a breathalyser system because a few thousand people cause accidents while driving drunk every year.

Is there a problem that needs a solution? Yes. Should that solution be the government forcing a centralised, top-down, opt-out program that denies us our privacy and is a gateway to wider censorship? Absolutely not.

Fundamentally, I remain sceptical about the problem at issue here. Should young children be exposed to the untold horrors of the internet? No, but there are so many easier and better solutions to this problem that don’t involve government censorship or government meddling in our private lives.

Follow Spencer on Twitter: @PaperhackWriter

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/david-camerons-war-on-porn-is-government-meddling/

3 comments

  1. James Burt

    From the article you linked: “f you are concerned about internet pornography and its effect on your children, either don’t let them use the internet, or download a free internet filter… You see? Problem solved, and all without government censorship or the violation of anyone’s privacy.” But it would surely be fictitious in the extreme to believe this works, however much we would like it to.

  2. David S

    It would work *exactly* as well as the govt filter, with the added benefit of brewing able to manage exceptions personally.

  3. George Orwell

    Excellent!

    In the short term we can take inspiration from Mr. Cameron and Mr. Orwell and start a state-funded Junior Anti-Sex League! I’m sure the party will love it!

    And “Think of the children?” Of course! I’m sure before long, we can entrust all children to state care and we won’t even need to be a viviparous species anymore! Just like Mr. Huxley suggested!

    I’m glad Mr. Cameron has taken such cheery classics as “1984″ and “Brave New World” as instruction manuals for his Big Broth- sorry I mean Big “Society”

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