As Expected, Those Who Pushed For FOSTA Are Now Looking To Kill Off Porn

from the the-morality-police dept

A few years back, when the campaign to use FOSTA (then called SESTA) as a way to chip away at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by creating a misleading moral panic around “sex trafficking” was in full swing, we pointed out that it was really a precursor to trying to outlaw all pornography. I highlighted how a key group pushing for FOSTA, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), didn’t even bother to hide that its real target was outlawing all pornography. NCOSE, as we pointed out, started life as “Morality in Media” and only changed its name later when it realized that everyone was ignoring them acting like fussy prudish pearl-clutchers, and decided that if they pretended they were about “exploitation” it would give them more credibility.

A key part of NCOSE’s campaign is to lump porn, prostitution, and “sexual objectification in media” into the exact same bucket as child abuse and sex trafficking, even though there’s a massive difference there. But it shouldn’t come as any surprise that as NCOSE has now expanded to create an “International” (ICOSE) branch, it has done so by kicking off a silly program demanding that credit card companies stop working with porn sites like Pornhub. Of course, in true NCOSE fashion, it insists that porn sites are really engaged in sex trafficking and child abuse:

The letter alleges it is impossible to “judge or verify consent in any videos on their site, let alone live webcam videos” which “inherently makes pornography websites a target for sex traffickers, child abusers, and others sharing predatory nonconsensual videos”.

“We’ve been seeing an increasingly global outcry about the harms of pornography sharing websites in a number of ways in recent months,” said Haley McNamara, the director of the UK-based International Centre on Sexual Exploitation, the international arm of the NCOSE and a signatory of the letter.

“We in the international child advocacy and anti-sexual exploitation community are demanding financial institutions to critically analyse their supportive role in the pornography industry, and to cut ties with them,” she told the BBC.

As Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason points out, this is all a repeat of the same old playbook: lumping in non-nefarious practices with much more nefarious (but also much rarer) practices, and then demanding that credit card companies disengage. These campaigns can sometimes be effective, because credit card companies tend to have little spine and freak out that people might make them look bad for processing payments.

This isn’t the first time activists have gone after the ability of websites to process payments related to sex work. When Craigslist and later Backpage were the moral panic’s big targets, advocates including Illinois sheriff Tom Dart lobbied companies to stop doing business with these websites?even though government officials and advocacy groups had earlier asked Craigslist and Backpage to accept credit card payments because they thought it would make tracking customers easier.

“But think of the children…” has long been a successful lobbying and public pressure strategy, but at some point people are going to realize that when what you really fear is consensual nudity, maybe you’ve gone a bit too far.

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Comments on “As Expected, Those Who Pushed For FOSTA Are Now Looking To Kill Off Porn”

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42 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Fetch me my fainting couch!

You know what would make finding actual exploitation a hell of a lot easier, as shown post-FOSTA? Not lumping any and all sexual content into the same bucket and making it so platforms have a very strong incentive to not see anything lest they be hit with massive fines, driving sexual content off of sites that are willing and eager to help law enforcement find actual victims and instead having that sort of content on sites that don’t give a damn and/or are incentivized to look the other way.

There’s some dark hypocrisy to be found in the fact that those decrying the victimization of a group of people are themselves using those victims as nothing more than props for their own ends, all because some people just can’t stand the idea that naked bodies and sex exists.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fetch me my fainting couch!

This is literally what the internet was like BEFORE 230, when there were huge scandals with ISPs and platform holders actively covering up paedophilia on their networks, because of a fear of being implicated if they approached the authorities with what they knew.

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Fetch me my fainting couch!

These puritans (small P on purpose as they haven’t even the Puritan set of ethics) don’t care that much about child exploitation or sex trafficking. A little, not a lot. They want sex to be erased from the human conscience, except for the purposes of procreation, and then only in the most Puritanical manner possible. They want to impose their moral standard on the rest of the world. A moral standard that I bet is practiced only in public by many of their co-conspirators.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The falacy of a single level of amorality.

A lot of the extreme-morality circles tend to see all matters of wrongdoing (against their specific creed) as causing the same amount of harm. So porn is the same as rape is the same as gay sex is the same as child sexual abuse. Mind you, these are the same group that have been totally okay with fucking nine-year-old girls so long as one marries them first.

And by trying to criminalize all porn, they’re going to inadvertently elevate all porn to the same level. When everyone is going to the darknet to get their kink, that will make popular all the means and methods of doing so. It’s going to be a lot harder sorting out child predators from ordinary folk who like looking at naked adults.

Reminds me of prohibition and everyone having hooch under the sink with cleansers.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

I never trust anyone who uses “think of the children” or some variant thereof as a justification for passing laws or filing lawsuits or whatever that go after legal speech. That kind of thinking ends with bullshit like, say, libraries banning books for no reason other than “someone said they didn’t like this, so no one else should have the right to read it, either”.

tz1 (profile) says:

Hate Speech

Cloudflare decided to deplatform the Daily Stormer, but has no problems with those advocating violence or porn or the rest.

If you poll people, they would want “hate speech” banned on the same basis – whatever that means, the definition is even more ephemeral than porn, no artistic, scientific or other value?, I know it when I’m offended by it?

There are only two viable positions. Either full free speech for anything which isn’t immediately illegal, or we turn the internet into Disney’s magic kingdom where everything is G-rated, or worse.

The question of interest is if you would do to what you consider “hate speech” what you consider tyrannical when done to porn/sex work/etc. above.

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tz1 (profile) says:

Hate Speech

Cloudflare decided to deplatform the Daily Stormer, but has no problems with those advocating violence or porn or the rest.

If you poll people, they would want “hate speech” banned on the same basis – whatever that means, the definition is even more ephemeral than porn, no artistic, scientific or other value?, I know it when I’m offended by it?

There are only two viable positions. Either full free speech for anything which isn’t immediately illegal, or we turn the internet into Disney’s magic kingdom where everything is G-rated, or worse.

The question of interest is if you would do to what you consider “hate speech” what you consider tyrannical when done to porn/sex work/etc. above.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

There are only two viable positions. Either full free speech for anything which isn’t immediately illegal, or we turn the internet into Disney’s magic kingdom where everything is G-rated

In re: what speech interactive web services can host, they can pick and choose to host whatever speech they want. As a Mastodon user, I see all kinds of content on the Fediverse that wouldn’t qualify as “G-rated”, but none of that includes White supremacist bullshit. The law does, and should, give those platforms the right to ensure that they can choose what legally protected speech they will and will not host, then enforce that decision through moderation.

In re: what speech web hosting companies can host…well, that gets into a much more complicated matter. Even the CEO of Cloudflare had misgivings about giving the boot to the Daily Stormer. At what point could the law force a company like Cloudflare to host content such as propaganda for White supremacists or anti-queer groups? Should we even have a law that makes such a decision?

Point is, your extremist black-and-white thinking holds no power here. We can have porn on the Internet without forcing platforms into hosting Klan posters and “conversion ‘therapy’ ”, and we can have “family friendly” spaces on the Internet without getting rid of all Internet porn.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Michael says:

Re: Hate Speech

[quote]There are only two viable positions. Either full free speech for anything which isn’t immediately illegal, or we turn the internet into Disney’s magic kingdom where everything is G-rated, or worse.[/quote]

You know that reality has already proven you wrong here, right?

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Been there

MEIN KAMPF attacked prostitution as a major cause of Germany’s decline; the "prostitution of love," was responsible for the "terrible … and mammonization (SIC) of our mating instinct" that threatened to annihilate Germany’s future.
Apartheid South Africa had very strict pornography laws, Playboy and Penthouse got you lots of jail time.
Trump’s Amerika has spent the last four years invading Women’s bodies with backward facing laws, it’s no coincidence that the "Church" has spent two millennia managing everyone’s sex life; “Marriage requires an ever-greater human control of coition and all that accompanies … where even at the moment of mutual orgasm, both are elevated in prayer, rejoicing in God".

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Been there

"Trump’s Amerika has spent the last four years invading Women’s bodies with backward facing laws…"

Try "republican america". Trump is an opportunist simply catering to the classic old pseudo-religious wannabe patriarchs who’ve infested that party since forever. It simply got extra bad after GWB, when the republicans started catering to the worst populists the right-wing had on offer.

It’s just that their agenda is a lot more open now.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hate Speech

Either full free speech for anything which isn’t immediately illegal,

You are as bad as the NCOSE people, Saying that a type speech cannot be carried by any site is the same as saying all speech must be carried by all sites, that is enforcing your morality on other people.

Anonymous Coward says:

I often wonder if these people actually engage in any sort of sexual activity at all themselves? Did they ever consider how they came to be? Do they think their own parents did nothing sexual, never looked at any nude pictures, never touched other bodies? That women just laid there, thinking of USA while men banged away for 30secs then rolled off and went to sleep? Come on! Get real!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I often wonder if these people actually engage in any sort of sexual activity at all themselves?"

…and feel terrible about it. Obvious to them that sex is a VERY powerful sort of sin if even hardened and god-fearing men and women like themselves can be led astray. They view sex and eroticism the way most saner minds see hard crack cocaine;
"Yes it makes you feel good and doesn’t appear harmful. But at some point down the road you will be sacrificing your children to the lusts of men to get the money to feed your own addiction I tell you!".

"Did they ever consider how they came to be?"

By their parents reluctantly suffering intercourse because enjoying it would be a sin. The topic probably isn’t discussed much.

"That women just laid there, thinking of USA while men banged away for 30secs then rolled off and went to sleep?"

Welcome to how it’s supposed to be in the ideal puritan world view where anything enjoyable is a tool of the devil, because ever since the original sin this life is supposed to be only trial and hardship meant to hone your moral character.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Austerity for moral character

What’s now been centuries of guilt-based religious pressure has now turned into a robust catalog of cool stuff attributed to Satan. The reverse effect, attributing military campaigns, cruel policies and the occasional superweapon as instruments of God’s working has lent an awful lot of weight to the notion that maybe Satan’s reputation (and God’s) is mostly due to biased press.

After all, it is common policy in religious ministries to lie and utilize falsehood in order to further institution-approved agendas.

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Norahc (profile) says:

Gander meet goose…

If they feel that credit card companies shouldn’t be allowed to process payments for lawful activities, then I guess they wouldn’t mind if those same credit card companies stopped processing their donations too.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The moral non-neutrality of money-transfer services

We’ve already seen this sort of thing when the big credit services stopped processing donations to Julian Assange for pissing off officers in the US Federal Government too much. I think the Snowden data block was the last straw.

Assange may be a dick, but when he is persecuted it’s for doing things that are in the better interests of the public (of the US and five-eyes nations) it raises a lot of questions. Yes, he’s a Russian asset according to some evidence, including some of the lies he’s told, but then the ACLU got its start with Soviet infusions. It’s why we need to judge people on what they’ve done, rather than what side they’re on, and then not forget to address the scandals raised as well.

I’d argue in the current state of affairs in which money-transfer services are a narrow oligopoly, they should stay neutral regarding matters political and moral. If ever we get to a point where there are dozens or hundreds of them, all with differing perspectives and moral positions, that might change.

It’s much like net-neutrality. If everyone had a choice between several dozen unaffiliated ISPs with differing socio-political positions we might need net-neutrality a lot less than we do in the market we have now that features huge regional monopolies and other regional gaps.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is ironically ample historical precedent of explotation of the word "exploitation". Not only the economically insane Marxist concept where any value added from something derived from another’s labor is exploitation but also the sex negative feminist "exploitation" concept which essentially replaces the patriarchy which decides against personal bodily autonomy in the name of "morals" strangely unrelated to harm with a matriarchy which decides against personal bodily autonomy in the name of "morals" strangely unrelated to harm.

"Exploitation" is ironically itself a word exploited to try to control minds by kneejerk emotional reactions.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"They didn’t even manage to stop child slavery with their supposed morality law."

…but they did make it harder to investigate and more dangerous for those being trafficked. They will fail at their intended effect, but that’s not what people are worried about, it’s the unintended collateral damage.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

OMG PORRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

I was unaware that we got all children adopted out of foster care, all innocent people out of prison, all homeless into homes…

When you keep pushing your plans forward, while people are literally getting sick & dying, that doesn’t solve actual deadly problems perhaps you are the problem.

If you think porn is the biggest problem in the nation right now, please attend more church services with like minded people.

Anonymous Coward says:

"We’ve been seeing an increasingly global outcry about the harms of pornography sharing websites in a number of ways in recent months," said Haley McNamara, the director of the UK-based International Centre on Sexual Exploitation, the international arm of the NCOSE and a signatory of the letter.

[Citation needed] there, Haley.

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