UK Gov't Considering Requiring A 'Porn License' If You Want To Look At Porn Online

from the seriously? dept

We hear this idea pop up every now and again, and I'd thought by now it had been shown to be pointless enough times that no one would seriously consider it again. Apparently, I was wrong. UK Prime Minister David Cameron is considering requiring adults who want to see porn online to "opt-in" by getting what is effectively a "porn license" to surf the sites deemed naughty by the government. Those in the UK government who actually think this is a smart idea might want to talk to their friends Down Under. Australia has toyed with similar ideas in the past, and they've all gone down in embarrassing flames. There was the filter that blocked educational sites, but left plenty of porn available. And there was the filter that took a teenager all of a half hour to crack.

Both of these highlight the key problems with the plan. Once you go down the path of censoring the internet, suddenly very, very big questions are raised about what gets put on the censorship list. It's easy to say "oh, well, porn is blocked," but something countless people (including judges) have struggled with over the years is how to precisely define porn. It's not nearly as easy as many people think. In nearly every case with filters we see a pattern: perfectly legitimate content that almost no one would consider to be porn gets blocked. And tons and tons of "porn" isn't blocked. Second, people will very, very, very quickly figure out how to get around such blocks.

The other issue, which doesn't come up as often, is the sheer ridiculousness of requiring people to effectively announce to the government that they want to view porn. They describe it as an "opt-in," but as I've said in the past, it's really more of a "porn license." People may have all sorts of reasons for looking at porn, but having to tell your government that you want to look at porn seems like a clear attempt to humiliate people for no reason other than that some in the government don't like the fact that others like porn.

If there's concern about kids viewing porn -- often the "think of the children!" justification that we hear -- there's nothing stopping parents from putting in place their own filters (which are likely to be as effective as any national filters). Why go further and try to block things for everyone?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    STStone, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Why go further and try to block things for everyone?

    Control of the citizenry's minds, for starters.

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Business Opportunity

    On the other hand, those who want porn but not to tell the gov will have to go thru a third-party of some sort--unless proxies count as porn too.

    On the gripping hand, to be effective, they'll have to block/monitor bittorrent (good luck), irq, ftp, every chat channel which can accommodate file transfers, and the good'ol sneakernet. Hell of a goal they've set.

    I'd wish them luck, but there's not a snowball's chance in hell they will succeed.

    Unless they put a little paper hat on their snowball, in which case the snowball will last a long time.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    Re: Business Opportunity

    irq should be irc -- been doing hardware dev all morning, sorry.

     

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  4.  
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    Krish (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:39am

    BBC Porn

    A "Porn License"? Does that mean the BBC will start making porn? That's the point of the TV license in the UK. Debbie Does the Doctor? I could see it.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    Re: BBC Porn

    I'd watch that.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:46am

    if anything/everything has been tried anywhere/everywhere by anyone/everyone and proven to be an abject failure, you can bet your arse the thick fuckers in the UK government will come along afterwards and not only want to but will implement it. when it fails, like it has everywhere else, they cant understand why. how dim can you get?? but i suppose when you have people in government like Perry that thinks that a TV that is limited to between 5 and 500 channels can have it's rules work on a communication platform that has infinite 'channels', what do you expect?

     

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  7.  
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    izzitme101, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    This is hardly a suprise, this dictator is no different to the two that recently left/got kicked out.

     

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  8.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: BBC Porn

    Only if Billie Piper gets to be Debbie. ;)

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    I'm sure these pron licenses will never ever ever be brought up in court or during a police interrogation. Never ever...

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    Re: Business Opportunity

    "On the other hand, those who want porn but not to tell the gov will have to go thru a third-party of some sort--unless proxies count as porn too."

    The paranoid part of me thinks that proxies are the actual target in all of this. Between porn, copyright legislation, attempts to put in backdoors for government, etc. etc. etc., it's almost as if authorities all over the world are attempting to foster proxies being primarily used for all the things they've made illegal. Once that's done, they can legislate against the proxies, perhaps the whole point the entire time.

    But then I remember: Nah, that's tinfoil hat craziness. Governments wouldn't setup false flag operations like that, and surely there was no Reichstagg Fire....

     

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  11.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re: Business Opportunity

    On the gripping hand

    Lay off the porn, buddy.

     

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  12.  
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    btr1701 (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    > Only if Billie Piper gets to be Debbie. ;)

    Billie's fine, but if I get to choose someone to go hardcore with the Doctor, I'm opting for Amy Pond.

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Business Opportunity

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    It really is simple

    If parents don't want children viewing porn online they should take responsibility and block it themselves instead of calling on ISPs to block it. It's not bloody difficult for Christ's sake.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    So...

    1) get everyone to use proxies
    2) arrest proxy end points and charge providers for all crimes on network
    3)
    4) profit

    ??

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    Re: It really is simple

    make parents responsible for raising their children? Outrageous! This is why we invented tv and the internet so we could stick the kids in their rooms and they will leave us the fuck alone. Spend time with and pay attention to my children! The nerve!

     

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  17.  
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    JayTee (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    As with all these idiotic "Think of the children!" moral panics if less time were spent focusing on the censorship and more time spent on proper parenting skills then this issue would resolve itself fairly quickly.

     

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  18.  
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    Torg (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Re: It really is simple

    How to bypass parental blocks:

    Step 1: Install keylogger on computer.
    Step 2: Find blocked legitimate site.
    Step 3: Request that parent bypass block for legitimate site.
    Step 4: Retrieve password from keylogger.

    I'm sure there are other ways to get around them too, but that was how my first day with my own laptop went.

     

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  19.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

    Okay, back to the question of who decides what is porn and what is not...what about the heavy Muslim population in the UK? Last I heard, Muslims believe in full body covering for women (hijabs and niqabs). So will fundamentalist Muslims be deciding that any video showing an uncovered woman is pornography and therefore need a licence to view?

    For the record, I mean no offense against Muslims.

     

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  20.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Best way to "think of the children" is to educate parents to be real parents. And that includes having minimum knowledge of computers/internet and actually spending time with the kid (as in monitor personally the time kids spend online being there when they are accessing the web).

    Nothing else will protect children online. Children learn very quickly how to circumvent filters and blocks.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: It really is simple

    How many children would know how to install a key logger?

     

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  22.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Business Opportunity

    Hrm...that give me a new idea for licensed porn...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    If porn is really so bad and evil, then why not take it a step farther? Why aren't we outlawing real life 'porn', like you know, consensual sex, and letting someone else see you naked.

    Sex and nakedness are what most porn is all about after all. So if one is harmful to everyone involved (online porn) then surely the other (consensual sex and nakedness) is just as harmful to everyone involved?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    Well, step three is already completed. That's the "make sure we're all in bed with the prison-industrial complex" step....

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    Fixing the wrong problem

    I think that requiring a porn license to "think of the children" is treating the problem too little too late. Instead let's require "child-bearing" licenses. Yeah, that's a GREAT idea.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Amber, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    And once you have in place the means to block websites, all kinds of things could end up on that list if you know the right people and grease the right palms. I can see why the politicians want it. How wonderful to "protect children". They could even put a few real porn sites on there to make it look legit.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    I was once a 14 year old male and let me say...anything and everything can be porn if you try.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    I would demand more porn with more tentacles and fisting.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    David (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: It really is simple

    Most of them. You're talking about a generation who grew up with those new fangled computer thingies...

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, May 7th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    New rule

    Whenever a politician says "we must do this for the children!", they really mean "we must do this...for me."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It really is simple

    I honestly don't know whether to be alarmed or impressed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    You both are crazy, Martha all the way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    James Bond, superspy with a license to fap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    Exactly. And a followup question:

    If said porn license is required to view actual porn, will a separate license be required to watch non-porn sexual activity? What if I want to log in to Chatroulette and view random penises? Is that covered or do I need to be licensed as a "Manhandler Class C" or something?

    Followup to the followup:

    Is there anything out there that prevents Chatroulette from being nothing but wall-to-wall penises? If so, I have a friend who's very interested in knowing the details...

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 1:58pm

    Stupid is as stupid does.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Business Opportunity

    on the gripping hand...lol

    intentional or happpy accident?

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 7th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Sounds like Audrey Barnhart, the Iron Ayatollah of the Texas County Library system, has now declared herself Queen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 7th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Well, actually, she'd probably just ban porn altogether.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    Make the internet into a panopticon, and you control the world.

    I guess, it's time to go off the grid.

     

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  40.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    Why not a two Doctors story?








    Number Ten with the DoctorDonna. *runs away cackling madly*

     

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  42.  
    icon
    Torg (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: It really is simple

    I didn't before I started trying to figure out how to hack my computer. As it turns out all that's required is downloading one off of Sourceforge and running the program. Other things I learned during that process included what a keylogger is, what Sourceforge is, and what freeware is. A determined child with a specific objective can learn a lot very quickly when armed with Google.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 3:53pm

    Hmm... Grandstanding on a moral issue? Providing a "solution" that doesn't actually solve anything? Why does this sound so familiar...?

     

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  44.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 4:31pm

    ...cannot tell if politicians are trolling

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    Definitely Martha.
    If there are licenses, does that also means that you can get a learner's permit but you have to view it with one of your parents ?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

    China?

    I live in China and have heard this excuse more times than I can count. So how do I get on websites that are blocked? Kids are not stupid and are way more technically savvy than in my generation.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    fuck, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:47pm

    Why does my country suck so hard recently. Seriously, England is getting real queer

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    anonymous, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:48pm

    Re: It really is simple

    simple yes, but getting around the block is not that hard

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    anonymous, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:48pm

    Re: It really is simple

    simple yes, but getting around the block is not that hard

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Business Opportunity

    those little paper hats are considered military grade weaponry, so only people who intend on breaking the law want them

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It really is simple

    neither its like children who were the first ones to be able to read could get a ton of smut

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:58pm

    Re:

    or bloodsucking rats?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    christine conner, May 7th, 2012 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    haha "happy accident"
    are you trying to perpetuate the dirty puns, or is it unintentional?

     

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  54.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), May 7th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    Mandatory Scrubs reference

    Dr. Cox: "I'm fairly sure if they took porn off the internet, there'd be only one website left. And it'd be called 'Bring back the porn!'"

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    JarHead, May 7th, 2012 @ 10:44pm

    Re:

    [quote][i]So will fundamentalist Muslims be deciding that any video showing an uncovered woman is pornography and therefore need a licence to view?[/i][/quote]

    OMG Noooooooo!!!!
    And I'm saying that as a Muslim!

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2012 @ 12:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    profit?!?

    This is government - they have no need of profit (hence the current debt levels)

     

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  57.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:21am

    Re:

    And often even if you don't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:22am

    Re: Re:

    Hey, I will not stand for you slandering the good name of rats, by putting them in the same group as politicians!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 2:43am

    Well this isn't going to help TD...

    Eesh, an article that mentions porn not once but twice in the title! And then goes on to mention it several more times in the article...

    This is certainly not going to help convince the german moral police(otherwise known as the German Media Control Authority) that TD isn't filled the to digital rafters with smut.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2012 @ 7:22am

    This is the coalitions re-launch!

    It's their new ideas to get the voters back on their side! This is definitely going to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    TerraHertz, May 8th, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Licence the legislators

    Can we please implement a license system for people who want to make up rules to restrict what other people can do?

    It would need some kind of basic intelligence and technology awareness test, with a yearly re-test. Also a psych test, to exclude psychopaths, megalomaniacs and other lunatics.

    A person would need to have this license before standing for election, or taking any powerful civil service position.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
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    droozilla (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Just start jerking off on pictures of the Queen. Then sandwich Kate's picture on top and leave the mess outside for discovery. We'll see how they feel about internet porn then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    What do you mean start?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    droozilla (profile), May 8th, 2012 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    Good point. And good luck.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    icon
    Lauriel (profile), May 9th, 2012 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    Hrm...that give me a new idea for licensed porn...

    Does it involve two "police officers" and a pool cleaner?

     

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  66.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Business Opportunity

    And +1 to you for that!

    Although you could call it porn, if you consider classic age-style 'hard' Sci-fi to be pr0n for techies...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    Didn't she already snog two of the Doctors? (Ok, one was in another show, but... :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    I'd go for Number 10 (clone) with Rose...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BBC Porn

    Yum...

    ...and euuuuuwww!
    Why should it have to be a parent? How about someone a bit more... experienced? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    suatana (profile), Jun 18th, 2012 @ 12:32am

    Backfire

    If enough people opted in, this might have the opposite effect. Porn becomes socially acceptable to watch/talk/share/etc. I'd vote for this. If porn was not deemed evil, maybe it would even stop human trafficking and such.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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