Society

Iceland to Ban Pornography, Faces Public Outcry

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Iceland’s government is drafting plans to ban print and oline pornography in an attempt to keep violent sexual images away from children. Opponents say Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson’s proposal will sensor the web, undermining Scandinavia’s reputation for free speech and encourage authoritarian regimes. Meanwhile anti-porn activists are cheering on the country, which successfully banned strip clubs in 2010.

Pornography is already banned in Iceland, technically, but the law does not define what constitutes “pornography.” Therefore the law has not been enforced. What Jonasson plans to do will flesh out the terms. The only pornography banned will be that with violent or degrading content as defined by the law.

“When a 12-year-old types ‘porn’ into Google, he or she is not going to find photos of naked women out on a country field, but very hardcore and brutal violence,” said the interior minister’s political advisor Halla Gunnarsdottir. “There are laws in our society. Why should they not apply to the Internet?”

A committee has proposed making it illegal to pay for internet porn with an Icelandic credit card, making a list of pornographic websites and perhaps creating a filter to block those websites. Internet free-speech advocates fear these measures share much in common with authoritarian web-policing in Iran, China, and North Korea.

“This kind of thing does not work. It is technically impossible to do in a way that has the intended effect,” said Smari McCarthy of the International Modern Media Institute. "And it has negative side effects…everything from slowing down the Internet to blocking content that is not meant to be blocked to just generally opening up a whole can of worms regarding human rights issues, access to information and freedom of expression."

Australia made a similar proposal last year to begin blocking websites containing child pornography, bestiality, sexual violence and terrorist content. After public outcry there, the plan was dumped.

In addition to internet porn, adult magazines like Playboy are sold in bookstores in Iceland, and more hard-core material is found in sex shops. Cable television packages include adult channels. The new ban would also bring these things under scrutiny.

Source: Fox News