The pendulum is swinging against sexual permissiveness, as the reaction against sexual abuse and sexual harassment is now extending to sexualized dating relationships. Next to be targeted may be internet pornography. A British law may spell the end of anonymous free pornography on the internet.
Beginning in April, the British Board of Film Classification will require all pornography sites to ensure that viewers are over 18. Otherwise, they can be blocked and fined up to 250,000 pounds. A company called MindGeek, which operates virtually all of the free pornography sites, has announced that it will implement a policy requiring all users to register by providing their names and proof of age, which can be done by giving credit card information, passport details, cell number, or other documentation. MindGeek has developed a proprietary system, called AgeID, which will cross-reference that data to prove the user’s age.
I predict that LOTS of porn users will not want to give their names and personal information and will be inhibited from accessing those sites.
As one might expect, this is creating an uproar in the U.K. over privacy concerns. The sites might get hacked, as happened with the adultery site Ashley Madison! MindGeek will have data on everybody’s pornography use! etc., etc.
But this would simply treat porn like everything else on the internet. You can get hacked no matter what accounts you have. You might think that MindGeek would oppose the law, but it isn’t, so eager it is to get viewer data. Just like Google. Advertisers follow your every desire, and pornographers want to do the same. You pretty much give up privacy when you go online.
I don’t know how the free porn sites would know reliably whether or not a viewer is from England or America. I suspect that the registration firewall will in practice apply to all users of every nationality. If not, I predict that other countries will pass similar laws.
And this isn’t a matter of religious people imposing their outdated morality on other people and squelching their freedom. Great Britain is one of the least religious nations in the world!
Most people agree that children should be protected from pornography. This is a way to achieve that. Would you really choose your personal privacy over the need to protect children?
The outrage is just a sign that, despite the sexual revolution, the use of pornography still elicits shame. People who use pornography do not want to be identified or to have their vice known. This is because they are ashamed.
No, this new law will not eliminate pornography. And, yes, lots of people will sign up so they can keep accessing porn. But doing so will no longer be anonymous. Removing the veil of anonymity will have an inhibiting effect. At least with individuals who know, deep down, that it is wrong.
Ways will be found to get around the new ID requirements. Under-18-year-olds will probably just give their parents’ information, likely to their great embarrassment. But pornography will no longer be the easily-accessible, casual, just-a-click-away online presence that it has been. It will be more like it used to be with the seedy shops far from town or the run-down movie theaters in the worst parts of the city, out-of-the-way places that men frequented with the desperate hope that no one would recognize them.
If there is a decline in pornography use, that would be a major social benefit. It would save marriages, promote better treatment of women, change the climate that the #MeToo movement is protesting, etc., etc., etc.
Photo by Wokandapix via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons