They really seem to be going after young Pandora. The classic "you couldn't make this up" bit is that they actually get their knickers in a twist over the free video made by Pandora and Amelia Rutherford (aka Ariel Anderssen) as a
fundraiser for fighting against ATVOD!
And this on the day in which Carole Cadwalladr, interviewing Max Mosley in the Observer, says S&M has gone mainstream.
Adult entertainment industry representatives met at a roundtable meeting with the UK VoD censors of ATVOD for a discussion over age-verification compliance.
The discussion, instigated by ATVOD, IFFOR, ICM Registry and the Adult Provider Network, also took an inward look at how the adult entertainment industry, domestically in the U.K. and worldwide, could evolve and adapt with onerous new rules put
in place and ones that could be on the way.
A central question was, Can the adult industry coalesce and work with the authorities over existing and proposed new rules?
Steve Winyard of ICM Registry, which operates the registry for .xxx, .porn, .adult and the upcoming .sex top-level domain sites, said that the real question is:
How far are people willing to be compliant when the hammer comes down?
Most of the big companies [in the online adult entertainment industry] control 80-90% of adult content across the world,. If they come to the table, the rest of the operators would have to follow.
The thinking is that in a world of ID theft, few customers will be willing to trust small websites with extensive personal details or else their credit card details. And even if they trust them, even fewer will want to make the effort of typing
in such details just to browse a website to see what is on offer.
The natural final solution is that customers will only use, big, well known companies that can be trusted with personal details, and that can offer a massive enough choice of porn such that customers don't have to keep entering ID
details for different websites.
And of course the end game will then be a US mega mall monopoly for porn along the lines of Amazon, eBay, iTunes and Play. And no doubt it will charge adult content providers the going rate of about 30%.
At the meeting, ATVOD's Cathy Taylor fielded queries for 20 minutes on the new AVMS rules and the government statement over site blocking domestic and foreign adult websites. Taylor was joined by ATVOD chief censors, Ruth Evans and Pete Johnson,
at the roundtable meeting.
Winyard of ICM Registry spent another 20 minutes on how the adult business worldwide is reacting to the AVMS directive and whether the industry can work with the British government on proposed new regs.
Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV (Television X) and the Adult Provider Network spent 10 minutes on what role should the adult trade play in the debate and whether age-verification is in the future for all adult sites.
The meeting was also attended by Sex & Censorship's Jerry Barnett, obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Vince Charlton from the US trade group ASACP and IFFOR's Sharon Girling.
Update: Details of ATVOD censorship censored
21st May 2015. Thanks to Sergio
One Eyed Jack originally posted a podcast of the meeting but it seems that this has had to be taken down on 'legal advice'.
So the meeting that was called to explain the status quo in the censorship of adult videos on websites is reprehensibly censored.The segment of the UK adult industry who could not attend are not to be informed about practical details of the
current interpretation of ATVOD's onerous and suffocating age verification requirements.
Update: View from America: Britain is to become a world leader in internet censorship
Britain is to become a world leader in internet censorship, instituting Chinese-style internet filters to block pornography, unless websites agree to check the identities of all visitors -- risking creating a database of British porn
Sold to the public on the pretence of protecting children from being able, either intentionally or accidentally, to view pornography on-line, sexual websites will soon be required to know exactly who is viewing them. By checking identities
through government databases such as local government or the Royal Mail, or though third parties such as banks or mobile phone operators, the government hopes to force companies to assume a child protection role.
Although the system being administered by the Digital Policy group is designed to keep the identities of those accessing adult material secret, privacy campaigners have said the databases will inevitably be fallible, and could allow the details
of individuals, and what they view, to fall into the hands of third parties.
The Guardian reports the comments of free speech campaigner Jerry Barnett, who said:
We know that privacy in such cases is often breached by accident, by hackers, or secretly by the police and intelligence services.
This is the state, yet again, intervening in people's private lives for no reason other than good old British prurience and control-freakery... I don't believe [The Government's] plans can be achieved without drastically changing the face of
the internet .
Britons may soon face ID checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between the government and groups from the beleaguered UK adult trade.
A scheme proposed by the industry group, The Digital Policy Alliance, would see adult sites verifying visitors' identity with organisations such as banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS. Adult websites would offer visitors
a choice of identity providers -- from Vodafone to the Department for Work and Pensions -- to vouch for their age, O'Connell said. The user would sign in to the provider with a username and password, and a check would be run against the data it
holds. To boost privacy, checks would pass through an anonymising hub . This strips identifying information in both directions of the request. In theory, the provider never knows the reasons for the checks, and the site never knows users'
true identities, just that they are over 18.
It comes ahead of an expected new law demanding age checks for online pornography and threatening a block on any sites which don't comply. It is a key Conservative pledge. But critics say the plans are a privacy nightmare. Some warn they are a
step towards Chinese-style internet restrictions. Myles Jackman, a lawyer specialising in obscenity law said:
This is cutting-edge censorship. We are now becoming the world leaders in censorship. And we are being watched very closely from abroad.
British-based sites have had to make stringent age checks since 2010, using credit cards, the electoral roll and credit reference agencies. It's a quite intrusive means of identifying age, said Chris Ratcliff, chief executive of Portland
TV, which runs Television X. Many customers simply go elsewhere, he said. Ratcliff, a key member of the DPA's age verification working group, expects government action by the end of the year.
According to Tory proposals, a regulator would have the power to block sites that don't use stringent enough checks. Observers believe this will be the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod), which currently enforces age-check and obscenity
rules on UK streaming video sites. The result of ATVOD's 'enforcement' is that it is near impossible to run a UK site within the current rules and has led to the UK industry losing out to foreign operations.
The legal situation is also confused. Ratcliff said it was unclear whether new rules would make content not behind age filters illegal. Jackman added:
As a matter of international law, I don't understand how it can possibly work. And I don't understand how it can work under the Obscene Publications Act. It's just being made up as they go along.
The stub of the UK adult trade that has been persevering with ludicrous British censorship required, eg Ofcom rules only allowing softcore TV, believe that acceptable age verification may be a benefit, but this seems unlikely. As with eBay,
Amazon, Apple, and Google, once governments start making life tough with onerous rules and red tape, only the largest operation have large enough economies of scale to handle the burdensome expenses, so creating a natural monopoly. and as the US
has the largest markets, so they can grab the lion's share of the market.
And as for the kids, there's already enough porn knocking around on hard drives to keep them happy for decades. Perhaps they will just go back to swapping porn mags, or the modern day equivalent, 64GByte memory sticks with enough porn to last a
And as a final thought, It is not clear that the security services would be very impressed if half the population of Britain were forced into using VPNs and the like. It would make life an awful lot tougher to keep track of the bad guys.
Pandora Blake has done sterling work in opposing ATVOD's nasty censorship grab of anything on the internet with video. She writes in a blog entry about the inevitable attempt by ATVOD censors to get their own back:
I thought I was going to be devastated to receive the letter, but when I opened it I just felt numb. I'd known it was coming. It was inevitable. I'm one of the most visible producers in the UK porn scene who is standing up and opposing the new
laws. I've been writing blogposts, appearing on TV, distributing free protest videos and generally making a nuisance of myself. They joined my website for 5 days in January, so I already knew they were aware of me. It was only a matter of time
before they sent the letter.
I'm absolutely horrified by this, especially as Pandora is so conspicuously ethical (to the extent, to be honest, of sometimes pissing off other spanking erotica producers).
Another, nasty piece of empire-building by the toxic twats of ATVOD. Pandora's probably a target because she has been so vocal in her opposition to this idiocy. Not a clever move on the part of ATVOD, since they have managed to rally to Pandora's
support at least one of that class of person whom they might have expected to be porn-bashing cheerleaders for censorship, the robustly feminist Guardian journalist Zoe Williams.
There are a few factors that make this whole thing particularly stressful which I haven't mentioned yet. The most significant is this: if and when ATVOD issue their Determination against me (that is, the final step of their investigation
process), they are likely to out me. The way they are likely to do this is by publishing my legal name as the Service Provider of the site Dreams of Spanking on the list of 2015 Determinations on their website. Nearly all of the providers ATVOD
have targeted so far this year have been listed by their legal name.
This is depressing. It looks very much as if they're going after Pandora because she's had the bottle to stand up to these idiots. I very much hope that Jackman resolves the issue for her.
The whole thing seems ridiculous. This protecting children twaddle (where the children are adolescents aged 14-17) is a complete nonsense. Is the average modern young man REALLY so technically inept that he can't beat parental controls
ATVOD has announced actions against two adult services breached new Tory censorship laws banning material on UK video on demand services which would be banned on DVD under the police censorship rules implemented by the BBFC.
Two providers of on-line porn have fallen vicyim of new regulations banning on a UK video on demand ( VOD ) service material which would be banned on DVD. The service providers also failed to keep strong fetish videos and hardcore porn
images behind unviable and onerous age verification requirements.
Banned pornographic material made available on the UK based services included videos of whipping likely to cause more than trifling harm, and the infliction of pain on a person who 'appears' unable to withdraw consent, even if filmed under
totally consensual and safe conditions. Also repeated strong kicks to the genitals which appear to draw blood. Such material has been prohibited on UK based VOD services since 1 December 2014 under new censorship rules introduced by the Tory
The findings by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ) are the first it has made under the new prohibited material rule introduced by Government in December and comes as ATVOD issues new guidance on the statutory rules it
enforces following a three month consultation.
The two online video on demand victims are Glasgow Mistress Megara Furie and Mistress R'eal were held to be in breach of statutory requirements incorporated into ATVOD's censorship rulebook as Rule 11 (age verification) and the new
Rule 14 (following BBFC R18 rules for VoD).
The UK based services allowed under 18s access to explicit hardcore and strong fetish porn videos which could be viewed on-demand. Yet the content of the videos was equivalent to, and in some cases went beyond, that which could be sold only to
adults in licensed sex shops if supplied on DVD.
Both services allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos or still images featuring strong fetish material and real sex in explicit detail. Access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee.
As the services accepted the most common payment methods, such as debit cards, which can be theoretically used by under 18's. However nobody seems to have actually documented any cases of any under 18s actually paying for porn with a debit card.
The operator of Glasgow Mistress Megara Furie closed the service within three days of the breaches being brought to their attention.
Enforcement action regarding the Mistress R'eal service is ongoing. If it fails to become fully compliant in accordance with a timetable set by ATVOD, the service provider will be referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction, a procedure
which can lead to operators being fined or having their right to provide a service suspended, as happened in relation to the service Jessica Pressley.
ATVOD has also published determinations that three further UK based adult websites - Lads Next Door, Panties Pulled Down and Montys POV , failed to keep hardcore porn videos and images beyond the reach of children.
Following enforcement action by ATVOD, the operator of the Lads Next Door service acted to bring the website into compliance with the relevant Rule. The operators of Panties Pulled Down and Montys POV failed to become fully compliant in
accordance with a timetable set by ATVOD. The service providers have therefore been referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction.
The latest rulings come as ATVOD publishes new guidance on the rules it enforces. Publication of the new guidance follows a three month consultation which began when the new censorship rules came into force.
Comment: ATVOD, the self appointed Pornfinder General
Critics of the new rules have long argued online viewers of niche pornography are still able to access content banned in the UK by watching videos filmed abroad, and new rules amounts to arbitrary censorship , while Myles Jackman, a
British obscenity lawyer said that the case showed regulators were making up their interpretation of obscenity laws as they go along .
A spokesperson for Backlash UK, which is campaigning to defend freedom of sexual expression, added:
Atvod have erected themselves - pun intended - as the UK's Pornfinder General.... The sole purpose of this new puritanism is mass control and surveillance, under the pretence of protection.
Megara Furie, who describes herself as a professional dominatrix, said that she had taken her site down immediately after she was informed by the censor. She now uses a more robust third-party operator to host her videos. She said:
The banned material, as far as I am aware was one ball kick, which resulted in the equivalent of a shaving cut and lots of blood because it was a testicle. I was happy to take that down. It was an eye-opener and I'll now be more selective about
my content. I wasn't aware I was breaching the rules.
Comment: Mistress R'eal appeals against ATVOD censorship
Mistress R'eal, the dominatrix whose scenes on Clips4Sale.com were the subject of a recent ATVOD probe and determination, has appealed the U.K. video-on-demand regulator's decision that she breached Rule 14.
With her appeal, Mistress R'eal also is challenging the legitimacy of the AVMS 2014 law. Currently, she faces a £10,000 fine and a ban on streaming online.
The videos that breached Rule 14 are:
A Bullwhipping in the Woods, parts 1 and 2,
Double Domme CBT and Pegs.
The scenes are explicit in the films, but they are like most BDSM content shown on a countless number of websites. For example, in Double Domme CBT and Pegs, a man is retrained against a cross and has weights attached to his bound scrotum,
several pegs attached to his body, and a violet wand played over his genitals,. While his arms appear to be free initially, it's implied (and seems to be the case) that his wrists are restrained quite early in the clip. He is also gagged (and
appears to be unable to speak with any real clarity) and has his legs bound. Hence his means of clearly indicating a withdrawal of consent is not apparent.
Mistress R'eal yesterday appealed against ATVOD's ruling that her site is in breach of regulations on the basis that the AVMS 2014 is not valid. Her appeal, according to SexAndCensorship.org , says the following:
I submit that the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, which introduced sections 368E(2) and (3) into the Communications Act 2003, were made ultra vires the Secretary of State's power to pass secondary legislation under section 2(2) of
the European Communities Act 1972. Section 2(2) gives the Secretary of State the power to pass secondary legislation for the purpose of implementing any EU obligation or for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of or related to EU
obligations. I note that the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2010/13/EU) imposes an obligation on Member States to prohibit hate speech on ODPS (Art. 6); by contrast, it does not contain any obligation to ban content that may be harmful to
minors from ODPS, only an obligation to ensure that access to such content is appropriately restricted (Article 12). In the premises, I fail to see how the 2014 Regulations (and, by extension, section 368E(2) & (3) of the 2003 Act), could be
said to implement an obligation in the AVMS Directive or to deal with matters arising out of related to that Directive. The 2014 Regulations plainly go well beyond the scope of the directive -- and, in doing so, subvert the appropriate
democratic process for dealing with an important human rights (free speech) issue. In light of the foregoing, I submit that the 2014 Regulations and sections 368E(2)-(3), CA2003 are void -- as so, by extension, is ATVOD's Rule 14, which is based
solely on the aforementioned sections of the Communications Act 2003.
Designer Holly Gramazio makes games you play in person, at events and installations. But thanks to a very special set of rules--namely, the long list of sex acts suddenly banned in the United Kingdom --Gramazio was drawn to make a hilarious
digital game for the first time.
So when the UK's bizarre list of sex acts banned from pornography began making the rounds, Gramazio saw an opportunity to try making a digital game for the first time ( these sound like bad rules, she thought).
The result is Gramazio's Pornography for Beginners , released late last year. It's a charming game that sees the player visiting a porn shed to find all the little bits that make up a porn, from genitalia to faces and wine glasses.
Thanks to the natural limitations of PuzzleScript, the tool Gramazio used to make her game, the genitalia is limited to 25 pixels. Watching your screen fill with tiny dongs is hilarious, as is Gramazio's charming, winking writing.