Prime Minister David Cameron announced earlier today that all citizens of the United Kingdom must inform their service providers whether they want access to pornography. Service providers are obliged to install automatic filters that clients must actively disable in order to access what the government deems the “corroding” influence of online pornography.
"I want to talk about the internet," said Cameron. "The impact it is having on the innocence of our children. How online pornography is corroding childhood. And how, in the darkest corners of the Internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.”
However, Cameron’s decision to include legal pornography along with illegal, brings up the age-old question: what is pornography? As Potter Stuart famously admitted- it is hard to define but, “I know it when I see it.” While this may be true of Potter Stuart, it is hard for a whole country to agree. For example, Cameron had to fend off questions including whether Fifty Shades of Grey qualifies as pornography.
Moreover, in the Daily Mail’s celebration of the Prime Minister’s new law restricting access to pornography, the sidebar to the right of the article featured three different candid photo shoots of celebrities in “skimpy bikinis.” To this, many cry hypocrisy. Hospital admissions due to eating disorders and body dysmorphia are on the rise in the UK, yet no law makers propose to outlaw the Daily Mail’s highly critical celebrity beach watch articles; even in the name of protecting children from the “corroding” influences of online celebrity gossip.
Finally, households must agree on whether to disable the filter. This means that husbands will have to admit to their wives, their use of pornography. However, unrelated members of the same household, such as roommates and tenets, may have to do the same.
Reaction to the announcement has been quiet, perhaps due to the wide coverage of the royal birth. However, it is likely the law will encounter greater opposition as the weeks wear on.