ATVOD reveals concerns that its bluff is being called…Given that all the kids are watching porn, then the distinct lack of depraved, corrupted, and seriously harmed children, proves that the legal underpinning of ATVOD censorship is all just bluff

Posted: 3 February, 2014 in ATVOD VOD Censor
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Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article [pdf] from atvod.co.uk

ATVOD with award for service to foreign industryATVOD is destroying the British adult website industry by imposing rules that simply don’t allow viable operation. In particular it demands that any visitor must supply a credit card (sorry debit card only holders, you are not allowed to view porn!). And who’s going to supply credit card details to a potentially dodgy porn site where they are not even allowed to look round first and see a sample of what they are buying.ATVOD does allow alternative age verification systems but these involve typing in lost of personal information that would be a paradise for identity thieves if people were foolish enough to go along with it.

And ATVOD is able to impose these onerous rules by claiming that hardcore porn seriously harms children.

The European Audio Visual Media Services Directive provides a justification for censorship that was implemented in UK law in the Communications Act:

If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it .

ATVOD claim that hardcore porn qualifies as material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen. And so the censor has the authority to impose draconian censorship.

However it is not actually proven that hardcore porn ‘seriously harms’ kids. Even anti-porn campaigners speak in terms of kids picking up bad attitudes rather than being seriously harmed. But given that all the kids are watching porn, and society is getting by pretty much as normal then the case for claiming serious harm looks to be untrue. In fact if anything society seems to be getting better with crime rates on a steady decline. There doesn’t seem to be a problem of Britain being overrun by depraved, corrupt and seriously harmed children.

Perhaps ATVOD should ask some of the parents of the many children who have seen porn. Is Your child seriously harmed?. I don’t suppose many will say yes. They are still just normal kids.

Alarm Bells Ring at an ATVOD board meeting

Recent minutes from ATVOD’s December board meeting reveal that the censor feels a little bit under threat, and is seeking a new law that provides a firmer footing for its censorship regime. Such a law is currently being debated by the government as indicated by board meeting minutes:

DCMS Strategy Paper

Issues relating to Access Services were discussed under item 10. The Board NOTED the Government’s plans to legislate to outlaw material which goes beyond R18 and to remove any doubt that R18 material needs to be kept out of reach of children.

The Board NOTED that the proposed common framework for media standards might include provision for protection of minors, hatred, consumer protection and protecting individuals. Meetings with other media regulators were being held under Ofcom’s chairmanship to consider this issue.

ATVOD is also seeking that banks and payment services refuse payment services to adult websites by similar claims to the above that providing hardcore porn in a way that can be seen by children contravenes the Obscene Publications Act:

An article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

Effectively ATVOD is claiming that hardcore porn depraves and corrupts kids. But again the reality of so much porn viewing and so few depraved and corrupt kids rather disproves this claim.

And in fact it seems that the banks agree that ATVOD is overstating its case. The board meeting minutes reveal:

The Board CONSIDERED the following:

  • The Payments Industry’s conclusion that the Obscene Publications Act does not provide adequate grounds for blocking payments and that firmer statutory underpinning is required . The briefing paper to DCMS setting out options was noted;
  • A working party has been established with the payments industry to consider how preventing payments might operate in practice and the Board will receive reports of meetings in November and December;
  • The statutory underpinning and who gathers information are two key issues to be resolved;

And perhaps most tellingly of all, ATVOD seem to admit that there is real risk to ATVOD if new legislation isn’t forthcoming:

Risk Register

The Board APPROVED the proposed changes to the Register.

For the next update of the Risk Register consideration would be given to the risk to ATVOD of an absence of relevant legislation in relation to R18 material.

Of course if ATVOD is found to have been censoring without legal underpinning, then perhaps it would be possible for those business that have been trashed by ATVOD to claim compensation. That would surely get ATVOD panicking.

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