European Parliament Considers Banning All Pornography, Blocks Emails From EU Citizens Protesting Against Censorship

from the that's-democracy? dept

A few weeks ago we wrote about Iceland’s thoroughly daft idea of trying to block porn there. Bad proposals for the Internet always seem to spread, and so it should perhaps come as no surprise that the European Parliament will be considering a similarly unworkable proposal, but in a rather more covert way, as the Pirate Party politician Christian Engström noted on his blog:

Next week in Strasbourg, probably on Tuesday, the European Parliament will be voting on a Report on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU. To promote gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes are of course very laudable goals, so my guess would be that unless something happens, the report will be approved by the parliament, possibly by a very large majority.

That would be a good thing, were it not for the following detail:

Article 17 of the report says (with emphasis added):

17. Calls on the EU and its Member States to take concrete action on its resolution of 16 September 1997 on discrimination against women in advertising, which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism;

There’s no definition of “the media”, but it’s hard to believe that the digital world would somehow be exempt. Of course, banning pornography in this way simply won’t work, but it will cause huge collateral damage to freedom of speech online in the EU. As if that weren’t bad enough, the way the report wants this put into effect is deeply problematic too:

the resolution we will be voting on next week has other things to say about the internet. Article 14 reads (again with my highlighting):

14. Points out that a policy to eliminate stereotypes in the media will of necessity involve action in the digital field; considers that this requires the launching of initiatives coordinated at EU level with a view to developing a genuine culture of equality on the internet; calls on the Commission to draw up in partnership with the parties concerned a charter to which all internet operators will be invited to adhere;

This is quite clearly yet another attempt to get the internet service providers to start policing what citizens do on the internet, not by legislation, but by “self-regulation”. This is something we have seen before in a number of different proposals, and which is one of the big threats against information freedom in our society.

This is another example of “voluntary” measures that will in fact by compulsory, since any ISP that refuses to implement them will doubtless find itself responsible instead. As we’ve noted before, this allows all kinds of dangerous ideas to be implemented in ways that are not subject to judicial review or even challenge.

It’s important to note that this is not a law as such, but a report, as Engström explains:

This means that it does not automatically become law even if it is adopted, but is just a way for the European parliament to express its opinion.

But the purpose of these own initiative reports are to serve as the basis for the Commission when it decides to present legislative proposals to the parliament. If this own initiative report is adopted by the parliament, it will strengthen the Commission’s position if and when it wants to propose various”self-regulation” schemes in the future.

Equally, if the report is defeated next week, it will weaken later attempts by the Commission to bring in self-regulation. Recognising this, people like Rick Falkvinge have been asking Europeans to write to their representatives to urge them to reject the report, as Techdirt user rudeholm pointed out. But as Engström now reports, emails on these censorship plans are being blocked by the European Parliament’s tech department:

around noon, these mails suddenly stopped arriving. When we started investigating why this happened so suddenly, we soon found out:

The IT department of the European Parliament is blocking the delivery of the emails on this issue, after some members of the parliament complained about getting emails from citizens.

This is exactly what happened with ACTA, when the Parliamentary authorities decided that all emails on the subject would go straight into the spam folder. It’s extraordinary to see how quickly politicians forget that hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to defend their online rights back then, and how unceremoniously dumping their emails in the spam folder only made things worse.

Discussions have been taking place on Twitter around the hashtag #mepblock (disclosure: I’ve been part of these), and an e-petition has been created, calling on European politicians to drop their censorship and to listen to their constituents as they are supposed to, instead of just ignoring them. There are still a few days before the vote next week, so there’s plenty of time for further developments in what looks like becoming an increasingly heated debate.

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Comments on “European Parliament Considers Banning All Pornography, Blocks Emails From EU Citizens Protesting Against Censorship”

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Ninja (profile) says:

wow… just wow… Freedom of speech is indeed sometyhing of the past. Today we are as free as someone in power thinks to be reasonable. We need to stop and go back to the very principles of free speech. The fact that SOME people may dislike pornography does not give them the right to block it. And while I do agree some porn is made so the women is VERY disrespected I do believe the only need here is to assure those porn stars are not harmed in a way they do not want. Blocking it is out of question.

And to illustrate how pitiful this is, my girlfriend agrees wholeheartedly with me. And we enjoy some porn together at times. So why should people like us be barred from access?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Freedom of speech has always been uncomfortable, even in the US. The US needs it because without the freedom to speak, all other freedoms are at risk.

On the other hand, Alexis de Tocqueville was onto something when he said “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America”.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

He was also correct in the fact that free speech can be eroded by mass media. He didn’t have the words for it, but just think how the corporate media has eroded what we can discuss and how the internet usurps the power of people to discuss topics and you basically have one of the things he knew to be true:

That mass media will look to fill vacuums and usurp democracy.

Jonathan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Remember, the US was founded as an aristocracy by landed gentry, who have almost never been onside with the non-landed peasantry and who specifically excluded the peasantry from much influence in Federal governance. The US needs freedom of speech because bitching and moaning is more effective at pacifying the masses and far less effective at influencing government activity and policy than withdrawing consent or participation. Put another way, the US needs it because without the freedom to speak, all the aristocracy’s other freedoms are at risk.

Returning to topic, if this little piece of state religion passes as is, I suspect EU members aren’t all going to just swallow it. Either someone refuses to comply or exits.

Jonathan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The right to free speech in the US is near-absolute, even overriding such considerations as not reporting falsehoods in news (see Akre v. New World Communications) and subordinate only to commercial or “national security” considerations. Other, saner countries take a more balanced approach, because there are rights more conducive to a just, modestly comfortable life than the right to blather anything that comes to mind.

Zakida Paul says:

Child porn is already blocked. Is there less of it on the Internet? No. Are there fewer pedophiles? No. Are children safer? No.

The only reason they are pursuing an agenda of banning and blocking porn is to create a precedent that will allow them to go after other forms of free speech, like political dissent.

Don’t be fooled, folks. This has nothing to do with protecting children and everything to do with controlling what information we have access to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh and a breakdown:

“Child porn is already blocked. Is there less of it on the Internet?

Since it’s illegal to possess, certainly.”

Get TOR and visit the hidden wiki.

“Are there fewer pedophiles?

Almost certainly, since it’s too dangerous.”

You are confusing a pedophile with a child molester. The first harbours sexual thoughts towards minors (aka a thought crime) the second actually molests children.

Idea! Maybe we should give EVERYONE committing the smallest of crimes the death penalty! This is brilliant! With such grave penalties nobody will ever commit a crime any more!!

“Are children safer?

As opposed to it being more common? Certainly.”

More common? As in its visibility is reduced? As in if you can’t see it, it’s not happening?
All that happened is that child abuse is being pushed away to the darker corners of the internet where it’s not possible to track it. Congrats, you’ve ‘solved’ child abuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually you are correct that this has nothing to do with protecting the children since it is measures against prostitution mostly.

The concept of “voluntary agreements” is terrible from a legal perspective since anything getting caught in overzealous enforcement is screwed!

This is an early state of a follower to “right to be forgotten”. But it is so early in the development that it will change a million times when the commission has had it, the parliament has commented on it, the commission has corrected it, the parliament has voted for it and finally the counsil and the national parliaments have had their rounds. The real concerns in Europe at the moment regarding internet freedom is the pieces to the IPRED revision, including “Right To Be Forgotten” and other nasties, the early negotiations on a revision of cybersecurity laws and several bits and pieces floating around in completely unrelated fields. This is far too early to start the attack on this.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder if Robert King of Australia will launch a lawsuit against the EU for censorship for the blocking of his porn.

If this porn block gets the go ahead then lets see how Robert King likes being on the receiving end of censorship because access to his porn is blocked. He is quite happy to get paypal to get rid of his competitor porn companies that uses paypal. Lets see how well he likes it when he is censored.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If this did become law (unlikely), then I imagine there would be lawsuits, at the national, EU and ECHR level challenging it. I think it is extremely unlikely that a blanket ban on porn would survive such a challenge (or even make it into law, given that the EC will also be aware of this).

There are even those who question whether the criminalisation of mere possession of child porn (particularly where it is defined to cover drawings etc.) could survive a legal challenge.

That said, I don’t imagine this clause was expected to go anywhere (the EP passes lots of these resolutions, most of which are ignored – remember the ones on ACTA?) I don’t know a huge amount about EP politics, but I suspect this clause was added to appease the conservative, family-value blocs in the Parliament, who might be otherwise objecting to a statement promoting equal values etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

and as per usual, the ones that will be affected the most, not because of losing the ability of watching porn but through having their rights removed and censorship increased yet again, are the same ones that are being allowed no voice, no say in the matter. what is wrong with these politicians? it’s the same everywhere. as soon as there is something that a company, an industry or a government wants, even though it will be detrimental to the people represented, it gets made into law anyway. when there is the smallest of things that make a difference to the well-being of ordinary people, it is fought against, tooth and nail, by those same companies, industries and governments. what a ridiculous situation is being created throughout the world!

out_of_the_blue says:

I thought Timothy Geigner, aka "Dark Helmet", handled all porn items.

Anyhoo, only bet I’d place is that this “Pronhibition”* is to raise the price now that porn is everywhere. That’s what Prohibition did by making alcohol illegal. Even partial success would divert extra billions to those who control the market.

* Get my pun there? It’s “porn” commonly mis-spelled by the “l33t” as “pron” which then fits into “Prohibition”. I slay me, honest I do. But steal it all you want without attribution, you pirates.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: I thought Timothy Geigner, aka "Dark Helmet", handled all porn items.

Anyhoo, only bet I’d place is that this “Pronhibition”* is to raise the price now that porn is everywhere. That’s what Prohibition did by making alcohol illegal. Even partial success would divert extra billions to those who control the market.

I doubt it. Wouldn’t work anyways.

Porn has a natural “do-it-yourself” (pun intended) element. Even if all commercial porn went away tomorrow, people would still be posting amateur stuff everywhere anyways.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

more pissed by the arrogant blocking than the pron...

as it is, ‘our’ ((sic)sick) ‘representatives’ can hardly demonstrate how much contempt they have for us lowly peons…
…and yet they still manage to rankle more…

fucking bastards…
i know how to tie a noose, i got a pitchfork, and i can make a torch real easy…

THAT is the inevitable conclusion THEY are pushing us towards…
do they not see that, or do they not care ? ? ?

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Jonathan says:

Re: Re: Re: Fuck the EU

To the extent the EP can hold off pro-corporate (pro-religion, pro-state-feminism, all the same thing) directives as well as they have held off ACTA so far, they’re worth keeping around. RoHS and WEEE also had some good in them.

But, looking at this as a resident and nominal citizen of the US and tempering my commentary according to my investment and knowledge, I don’t know that the European Commission, or at least its present makeup, is really good for EU citizens, and look at what the economic union’s done to German workers, let alone Greece…

Anonymous Coward says:

Man v woMAN

“To promote gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes are of course very laudable goals,”

This is soooo ridiculous and laughable (not laudable), to try to make that which is naturally different into that which is indistinguishable.

I predict that woman in the future will be treated with more contempt by men as the women try to reach manhood by emasculating men. Not to mention the sex robots that will make it much easer for men to avoid the crazy that is woman?

Jonathan says:

Re: Humans are stupid.

Stop trying to avoid saying “sex”. Sex is biological (and there are actually five if we’re counting by sex-linked physical characteristics or chromosome configuration, even if three of them are somewhat rare). Gender is social (and potentially infinite). They just happen to coincide most of the time, but it is not inevitable nor necessarily desirable that they do, and the mismatch is hardly a new phenomenon.

Arguably, you’re right on either count. We have since discovered that this revealed knowledge is insufficient to describe reality thoroughly, and are still adjusting. I’d be happy to dispense with gender norms or even the concept entirely, and I think most on the ASD spectrum who have interest in the opposite sex would feel likewise.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

There are a few problems I have with this.

1) How is porn sexist? Some porn can be sexist, but so can some restaurants, it all depends on who’s running the damn thing.

2) Porn is a multi billion dollar industry. It makes more money then the RIAA and MPAA combined. While porn is legal, that money is taxable. Make porn illegal, all of a sudden they don’t have to pay taxes. How money money would be lost in the economy?

But at least there’s a gray lining to this black cloud. If you ban porn, you have to ban the bible.

Mark says:

Uggh politicians

It really gets me hot under the collar when such massive changes are hidden inside only loosely related legislation.

Sadly we’re also having to deal with similar measures in the UK and as usual politicians fail to fully comprehend the gravity of what they propose. In the UK it’s not even porn but “adult content”, which could include everything from Facebook to the BBC news etc.


DownWithEqualityNow says:


Femnazi’s been waiting to spread their vile into stuff. They want bans of course, this is their way at getting back and CONTROLLING men AND women.

Look at all these STUPID ASS game journalist who cringe and cry about video-games having a hint of sexuality in them. Their all secret Equality Now Fuckers. Feminist are clogging the video-games with their propaganda and stuff is just getting censored left and right. I’m sick of those bitches too because they help wreck a lot of Asian games I could have played and liked. 🙁

These bitches need to back the .fuck. off. them and their stupid ass Parliament white-collaring creeps. They are violating people’s rights by NOT allowing porn. These are females and males who volunteer and make this stuff and get paid. These are artists who make these things with no persons involved even for the more extreme stuff so no one is harmed. Their not being objectified at all because the entire POINT is that they signed a contract and get PAID for what they do! They are willing participants employed by a company to satisfy customers. They KNOW what the job is and what it contains. They read contracts before they even get started. Hello!

And now their trying to ban it all? Exactly what will that accomplish. More people ignorant about how sex even works so we’re highly uneducated which just means even more early teen-pregnancies, stds, unwanted pregnancies and the guaranteed sky-rocketing of actual sexual assaults against women because NOW, they don’t give people a legal outlet to let their urges out on. A bunch of hormone-driven guys not being given a natural outlet to relieve themselves. Even the bloody bible speaks about men who have sexual problems who, for multiple reasons CANNOT get married to “relieve” themselves. And now your taking that all away from them, and for women who have the same problems too. Faggots.

These feminist women who the fuck do they think they are to the point they almost want to be worship like goddesses if a guy DARE looks at a nude and sexed up female. If other females wish to be sexy they have NO RIGHT to take that away from them. But these bans are. If a male wishes to be sexy he can be so. But now he can’t.

The US is not far behind in it’s bans and censorships too. What the fuck is going on. Guys can’t even be attracted to the opposite sex anymore yet homosexuality and transgender is being pushed as the ‘norm’?


Some guys have fantasy as do females. LET. THEM. as long as it’s consensual or fake like reading a damn book there should be no problems as no crimes are being done. If some guy is into bondage or curious about it fine, let him get his stinkin porno bondage tapes. Let him get a chick that’s into it too and they both can go bonking each-other in the basement. Fine.

But don’t take the poor man’s porn away. And these feminazi’s need to stop acting like they speak to for every-single female out there and all females are angels. Their not and just like guys they can have the SAME fantasies or be just as freakin horny.

What about people who are diagnose with chronic-masturbation? What can they get off to now with these fucking bans. They got to relieve somewhere and with these bans Parliment is gonna make some weird-ass shit come out cus now their blocking the only legal way to relieve.

If I want to read stories about sex, watch sex, or play games with sex in it it’s none of the parliament’s fucking business. Look at all the damn romance novels out there created with women. TONS of guys with buldging muscles, sexy looks, into frisky bed-rompings for 40 year old stay-at-home moms who’s sex lives suck. And now your taking that away from those women too?

Eat my ass cock-blockingshits. ( Y )

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