ATVOD, the UK Video on Demand censor, has published the result of an appeal to Ofcom which resulted in the confirmation that the Daisy
Rock UK website is subject to suffocating censorship by ATVOD.
An appeal by the service operator against an ATVOD determination in November 2014 that the website was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD was rejected by Ofcom.
The ruling means that the Daisy Rock UK website -- which provided access to a range of explicit sex videos - must comply with an ATVOD Rule which requires services to keep explicit sex videos behind onerous and unviable access controls which
ensure that children do not normally see them. The website operator had been found in breach of that rule in November 2014 and had brought the service into compliance pending the outcome of the appeal.
In order to fall within the scope of the regulations overseen by ATVOD, a service must satisfy a number of statutory criteria, as set out in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003. One of these is that the principal purpose of the service is the
provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had argued that the principal purpose of the
website was to operate as a fan club for an adult porn performer and that the video content was not comparable to TV programmes. The Ofcom decision supported ATVOD's original ruling that the principal purpose of the website was to provide TV-like
programmes, noting that the provision of audiovisual material was the main offering of the service and that the videos themselves were comparable to the type of adult sex material included in certain premium subscription and pay per view television
channels -- even though the content was stronger than that allowed on UK TV.
The UK rules overseen by ATVOD implement an EU Directive which makes clear that the rules are intended to apply to services which are mass media and which compete with television broadcasts services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had
also argued that the low turnover of the service meant it was neither mass-media nor in competition with television services and therefore placed it outside the scope of the Directive. In upholding the original ATVOD decision, Ofcom also rejected this
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson commented:
The decision to uphold the ATVOD ruling makes clear once again that hardcore porn videos on adult websites may be subject to the ATVOD rules even if they are too explicit to be broadcast on UK television channels. It also makes clear that services with
low turnover fall may within our remit.
Video on Demand censor ATVOD has taken action against 8 adult companies operating 21 websites. 6 of the services
didn't abide by ATVOD's unviable and onerous age verification requirements and 2 contained spanking material, which ATVOD claims is banned under an undemocratically introduced government decree.
In fact spanking material is banned because the Crown Prosecution Service unilaterally claims that it can be successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. This claim is surely not backed up by recent jury trials, but is maintained by
offering attractive plea bargains to victims being prosecuted to accept a guilty rap rather than go to jury trial. The Crown Prosecution Service writes the porn censorship rules used by the BBFC, and ATVOD in turn, uses the same CPS defined rules as
maintained by the BBFC.
Ultimately ATVOD and the government are making the bollox claim that spanking videos are somehow likely to 'deprave and corrupt' viewers. A claim that's provably nonsense as for all the many people that enjoy the likes of Dreams of Spanking, there simply
aren't any examples of people who have been depraved and corrupted its viewing, not even ATVOD staff.
The two services which featured 'banned' material -- The Bondage Mistress Club and Dreams of Spanking are the subject of ongoing enforcement action. If they fail to become fully compliant in accordance with a strict timetable set by ATVOD,
the service providers 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.
The six other services -- Joybear Pictures, Sunday Sport XXXtra, UK XXX Pass, Lisa Cross, Luke's Lair and Lucy Zara -- had all failed to have in place robust mechanisms for preventing under 18s from accessing pornographic material which
would be restricted to adult licensed sex shop customers if distributed on a DVD. Two of the services -- UK XXX Pass and Luke's Lair - had allowed any visitor to view such material free of charge. The remaining four restricted access to hardcore porn to
paying customers only, but accepted the most common forms of payment which theoretically could be used by under 18s.
Following ATVOD's intervention, all six services acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed until such action could be completed. Of these, Joybear Pictures and UK XXX Pass acted in advance of the final breach ruling, while the
remaining four acted in accordance with deadlines set in Enforcement Notifications issued at the time the breach was confirmed.
ATVPD notes that two of the providers recently brought into compliance have since submitted claims -- currently under investigation - that the services have now been transferred to the control of persons based outside the UK. ATVOD has no powers in
relation to services operated from abroad and on-demand services provided from outside the UK -- but accessible within the UK - are rarely required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD.
Comment: Amongst the authoritarian, sanctimonious twats of this world
23rd August 2015. Thank to Alan
I write from a civilised country, in which material illegal under the Dangerous Pictures Act can be shown on terrestrial telly, with the kiddiwinks
protected only by the late hour of broadcast. Maybe I should extend my holiday.
My first reaction to reading the ATVOD determination was laughter. How could anybody write this sanctimonious, po-faced drivel without rolling on the floor pissing his boxers (or her knickers) with uncontrollable, hysterical mirth? Among the
authoritarian, sanctimonious twats of this world, Johnson has shown himself to be the Michelangelo of authoritarianism, the Leonardo of sanctimony and the Raphael of twattishnesss.
One small mercy, I suppose, is that Pandora's real name is redacted. She was seriously concerned that it might be released. (I know of only two models/actresses in the spanking field who have let their demonstrable real name be known, and a couple of
others who have used the same name -- real or assumed -- for spanking and other modelling work.) The more serious aspect, of course, is that PB has had to put Dreams of Spanking on hold until she can win an appeal against this idiocy. My acquaintance
with the woman is extremely limited -- confined to the exchange of a couple of emails -- but she comes across as a thoroughly likable person.
Update: Ariel's Sponsored Caning
24th August 2015. Thank to Alan
It is interesting to note that one of the films singled out for a kicking was Ariel's Sponsored Caning - produced specifically to raise money for the fight against ATVOD, and made available free under Creative Commons.
The following Freedom of Information request has been lodged with the Information Commissioner's Office on the 10th August 2015 about the status of ATVOD in
regards to being liable to service Freedom of Information requests:
Dear Information Commissioner's Office,
1. Minutes and records of all discussions or documents relating to the consideration of whether ATVOD should be accountable under the FoIA.
2. Representations made by ATVOD as to the process to determine their accountability under the act.
I'm not really sure why there should be a debate. ATVOD reports directly to the government and also to the official state censors Ofcom. In addition ATVOD enforces censorship rules specified directly by the two government departments: The Department of
Culture media & Sport; and the Crown Prosecution Service.
ATVOD claims to be a 'co-regulator' representing both the government and the industry, but given that ATVOD has spent its entire life crucifying a large section of the UK internet trade, it seems to be a bit of a one sided co-regulation relationship.
Surely ATVOD is a state censor, and as such should be open to freedom of information requests.
I built this site so I would have something that was completely my own. This is the project that was meant save me from having to compromise myself, my alternative to spending the best years of my life working for other people. Dreams of Spanking
represents my creative independence, my sexual self-acceptance, and my financial stability. It's mine, I made it, it works, it was the biggest thing I'd ever done - and just as it started to pay me a wage, it's being taken away from me.
Pornhub, a vast network of online adult content which attracts a 6 million visitors a day, has launched Pornhub Premium, a paid
subscription platform it calls Netflix for porn .
For $9.99 a month, members will receive access to exclusive, full-length HD videos, along with the ability watch the rest of Pornhub's 3m videos without being subjected to pop-up ads and with faster video playback and higher streaming quality. The
service will complement the company's free offering.
While Pornhub describes the new site as Netflix for porn , a more apt point of comparison is Spotify, which also offers a free, ad-supported version to go along with its core paid product. Considering the challenges unique to its space, if Pornhub
finds a way to convince users to cough up cash every month, it will pose an instructive model for the rest of the digital content industry.
Commenting on the announcement [of a government consultation of ways to censor internet porn],
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:
ATVOD welcomes the government's ongoing commitment to protecting children from online pornography...
ATVOD urges the adult industry to take this opportunity to develop its own robust proposals to address the problem of offshore adult websites...
ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK.
The Guardian has published an article presumably based on a government press release:
David Cameron is to give pornography websites one last chance to produce an effective voluntary scheme for age-restricted controls on their sites or he will introduce legislation that could see them shut down.
In a consultation to be launched in the autumn, the government will seek views on how best to introduce measures to further restrict under-18s' access to pornographic websites.
The industry, in the shape of either UK-based websites or internet service providers, will be given an opportunity to develop proposals to block content through payment providers, such as advertisers and other means.
The consultation will also consider the best form of legislation should voluntary agreements not work. A regulatory approach could see primary legislation introduced to make it an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age
verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls.
The government recognises the spread of the internet makes it a challenge to find a form of legislation that would cover such sites both in the UK and internationally. The government has raised the prospect of setting up a pornography regulator
to oversee the process and fine firms that breach either legislation or the voluntary guidelines.
The aim is to ensure that the rules that apply offline apply online, giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can use the internet safely.
Cameron said his government was working:
To make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content, which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will
face being shut down.
The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said:
As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters -- something we take great pride in having achieved. It's a gold standard that
surpasses those of other countries.
Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in
the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.
The American entertainment website, www.vice.com
has a page for video articles, mostly international, but a with a few of UK interest. www.vice.com/en_uk/videos
. The website also has staff working in the UK for a company called Vice UK.
ATVOD considered that this was sufficient UK interest for the video service to be liable to ATVOD censorship which comes with a hefty price tag but absolutely nothing in return for the money.
As the website is under US editorial control and hence out of UK jurisdiction, Vice appealed ATVOD's decision to Ofcom who are the ultimate authority for censoring internet video.
Ofcom looked into the location editorial control of the website videos, which is one of the legal fundamentals of deciding the jurisdiction in charge of censorship. And Ofcom concurred with Vice, that the website is controlled from the US and so
overturned ATVOD's decision.
This rather leaves ATVOD hunting around for new victims to try and pay for its expensive 'services' of looking into a trivial 55 complaints in a year about UK internet video. Existing non-adult internet video companies are rationalising and
declining in numbers, whilst adult services are either closed down or driven offshore by ATVOD's impossibly onerous age verification requirements.
It seems pretty likely that my visibility as a campaigner has made me a target. In other words, ATVOD are
punishing me for speaking out against them. My priorities as a loud-mouthed activist have, it seems, ended up conflicting with my priorities as a creative artist. If I'd kept my head down and stayed quiet, and not attended any protests, or argued
against the regulations on the news, or done interviews with the press - if I'd not written a lot of angry blogposts or fundraised £3826 to help Backlash fight the laws - maybe I'd have been left alone a bit longer.
UK VoD industry forced to cough up half a million quid so that 3 staff and 3 fat cats can investigate 55 complaints, of which 10 were upheld and 10 are ongoing. That's 22,000 quid spent for each happy complainant
No wonder ATVOD keep banging on about on about their campaign against hardcore porn websites. There's not much else to do.
ATVOD writes in its press release:
The Authority for Television On Demand , co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has today published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2015 to protect children from hardcore porn on
regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.
Twelve services, operating across 137 websites, were found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2014-15 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18's.
Of the twelve services, eight acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed, and two were the subject of ongoing enforcement activity at year end. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a person or company
established outside the UK. ATVOD has no powers in relation to services operated from abroad and on-demand services provided from outside the UK are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by
ATVOD in the UK to protect children from hardcore pornography.
Given the ability of adult website operators to place their services beyond the reach of current UK regulations, ATVOD counsels against complacency and has continued to encourage policy makers to consider how children might be better protected
from pornography online.
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:
We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.
Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an I am 18 button
or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the offline world.
ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support initiatives
designed to improve the take up of parental control software and worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation introduced in December 2014 which prohibits on UK based, tv-like VOD services any material
which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.
Looking forward, we note with interest the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to require age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material.
Chairman Ruth Evans notes that she is standing down from the role in 2016.
Ruth Evans is now set lead the British government's Payments Strategy Forum, which is currently being assembled to bring together the U.K. payments industry and representatives of all those that use payment systems. She will begin her new role on
July 27 while still helming the title of chair for ATVOD.
As chair of the Payments Strategy Forum, Evans will be responsible for guiding and progressing discussions among stakeholders, including card payment systems operated by Visa and MasterCard, as well as direct debit processors. Evans' slot will be
independent of the industry but appointed by and accountable to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), the new economic regulator for U.K. payment systems that became fully operational in April.