Legislation Trying to Suppress the Porn Industry

The porn industry has long been the focus of countless legislations having the main goal of censorship and suppression. From as early as the 1990s, legislators and regulators have been continuously looking for ways to stop people – particularly those 18 years old and under – from accessing sexually explicit material online, such as hardcore porn. While these legislations originally have the best interests of the people in mind (such as the prevention of sex trafficking), their details tend to be confusing to the point of being counterproductive to several internet sites.

Porn Industry Suppression in the US

Last year, President Donald Trump signed into law two controversial bills – SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act). These bills aimed to prevent the proliferation of illegal sex trafficking online but also succeeded in wreaking havoc on the internet’s safe harbor rule. This rule, also known as Section 230, stated that internet platforms and ISPs will not be held responsible for hosting sexually-explicit user-generated content – much like what is being offered by the Canadian pornography video sharing site Pornhub.

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FOSTA and SESTA, however, will now hold website publishers responsible if their platforms contain ads for consensual sex work and prostitution. This exception to Section 230 aims to make it easier to keep track of online prostitution rings. Numerous websites then started censoring their platforms in order to eliminate even the remotest possibility that the content might be used for prostitution.

Unfortunately, the bills seem to have backfired in the sense that they don’t necessarily make porn industry workers safer. On the contrary, these bills seem to disregard the ways that the internet makes sex industry workers operate in a safer environment – within an online system that can be regulated.

Porn Blocking in the UK

In the UK, a controversial piece of legislation aims to block porn for viewers who are under the age of 18. It involves all adult entertainment sites operating within the UK doing specific checks that all visitors are 18 years old and above. The sites or apps that need to comply with these new age-checking requirements must have more than 1/3 of their content dedicated to pornographic material. This means that, for example, an image-sharing site featuring sexy college girls on only a few pages are exempted from these age checks.

The age checks will use several systems to verify pertinent information. These verifications include checking of driver’s licenses, credit card verifications, and passport scrutiny. Porn passes can also be purchased from local shops and are used to verify an individual’s age in person just like what they would do with an ID when trying to buy alcoholic beverages.

While the goal of this porn block is beneficial to underaged viewers, there are still ways that those under the age of 18 can access porn sites which are not covered by the law. Teens can still watch porn material through sites that have less than a third’s worth of pornography on their platform. The adult entertainment material can still be enjoyed by teenagers on sites that host pornography on a non-commercial basis. This is because platforms that do not make money or charge for hosting porn material are exempted from the porn blocking law legislation as well. The use of VPNs will also work to bypass the restrictions, since it will seem like the viewers are accessing the adult content from outside the UK – and are thus exempted from age checks.

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