The first legislative attempt to introduce an opt-in system for accessing adult internet content, has been introduced to the House of Lords. Of course private members bills have little chance of becoming law unless they capture a large consensus
of support including the government.
The Online Safety Private Members Bill was introduced by Baroness Elspeth Howe, who wants to require ISPs and mobile phone companies to block adult content, unless an adult user specifically asks for it.
And the bill has predictably won the backing of the Christian campaign group CARE, who claim it is important that the government look at providing a safe online environment for web savvy children.
The Private Members Bill is calling for ISPs and mobile phone operators to provide a service that allows adult customers to make decisions about what sort of content they want blocking on their home broadband or their children's mobile phones.
Howe's Bill is based on MP Claire Perry's campaign. The government said at the time that they are in favour of the proposals put forward, but would like the industry to self-regulate and bring about these changes without amending primary
legislation. Last year the industry made the pledge to bring forward self-regulatory measures, but did not go as far as endorsing the requirement to have an opt-in to access pornography through a filter at network level.
Historically, most internet content has escaped regulation. A laudable industry-wide effort in the UK resulted in the Clean Feed system that blocks illegal child abuse imagery, but there has always been a reluctance to block, or limit access to,
other forms of adult material due to the international nature of internet content.
The head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is whingeing that parents ignore age restrictions and allow their children to play violent computer games.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers will raise their concerns about children spending hours a day playing inappropriate computer games at debate during their annual conference in Manchester next week.
ATL head Dr Mary Bousted said some of these games were very violent and could have an effect on tender young minds of children and young people . And she was sure her conference would hear how parents are ignoring age restrictions
of computer games. She told reporters:
Of course, they're extremely difficult to enforce, just like films, like TV.
It's about reminding parents and carers that they have a very real responsibility for their children and that schools can't do it alone.
If they're up to 12 or one o'clock playing computer games, and coming to school exhausted, not interacting with other children, that's not good preparation for school, and not good preparation for life.
The fact that children spend hours locked in their rooms playing computer games, which means they're not interacting, they're not playing and not taking exercise.
The motion being debated calls for the union's executive to commission research which will allow it to lobby government for the introduction of more stringent legislation on computer games.
A Christian group which claimed a sex shop could attract sexual offenders into the London Borough of Richmond has failed in its bid to stop the establishment renewing its licence.
Twickenham Christian Concern claimed unconvincingly that the Private Shop, in Kew Road, Richmond, may be encouraging undesirable people to visit the residential area.
However, Richmond Council's licensing sub-committee said that it had no evidence this was true and it could not make its judgement based on the group's moral objections.
Rosemary Jarvis, of Twickenham Christian Concern, seemed to doubt her own arguments saying:
It could well be undesirable people are coming to the shop which we perhaps prefer not to have in our borough.
I could show you pictures from the papers of people who police have arrested because they've committed certain sexual crimes.
I know you can't necessarily prove that because there's a sex shop in the vicinity that person has been into the sex shop and therefore committed that crime, but people concerned about sexual crime feel vulnerable when there's a sex shop or
anything of that nature.
Councillor Brian Miller, of the licensing sub-committee, said no neighbours of the Private Shop or the police had complained about it since the authority first granted it a licence in 2005. The committee granted the Private Shop's application to
renew its licence because it said it had no grounds to refuse.
The head of ChildLine has blamed social networking sites such as Facebook for fuelling what the charity claims is a huge rise in the number of children who deliberately harm themselves.
Sue Minto said the internet and mobile phones meant young people were being exposed to cyber-bullying 24 hours a day.
Launching a self-harm awareness campaign which is being supported by X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos, Minto claimed such pressure could cause children to begin cutting themselves or engage in risky behaviour such as drinking or using drugs.
Research to be released later this week suggests the number of children and young people who deliberately hurt themselves on a regular basis has risen significantly over the past ten years.
Platform 51 is a women's group that was once the YWCA. They write:
Platform 51 poll reveals significant support for ban
A new poll, commissioned by women's charity, Platform 51, reveals that over two fifths of women in the UK would support a ban on the use of topless images in daily newspapers.
Almost double the proportion of women (42%) would support a move to ban topless models as oppose it (24%)
Amongst men and women, younger people aged 18-24 (41%) and Londoners (43%) would be most supportive of a ban
Commenting on these latest figures, Rebecca Gill, Platform 51's Director of Policy, Communications and Campaign, said:
Today's figures reveal that many more women are in favour of a ban on Page 3 than against it. Everyday we help girls and women across the country to build up their confidence and self-esteem and we see how they are affected by such photos, both
in how they feel about themselves and how men see them.
These figures are particularly timely with Dominic Mohan being recalled in front of the Leveson inquiry on this issue. We hope that the inquiry will listen to women's views.
Surely readers have the right to know the full results of the poll including the views of men, older people, and those outside London. The results selected have obviously been cherry picked, and one assumes that the full results simply do not
support Platform 51's views.
And then Rebecca Gill, CEO of Platform 51, cheekily uses these bollox half survey results to sort of call on Leveson to ban page 3. See
huffingtonpost.co.uk by Rebecca Gill:
On Monday Dominic Mohan was recalled to the Leveson inquiry where he defended Page 3 as a British institution . Unfortunately he missed the all important word was'- it was a British institution - and not a particularly good one at
Platform 51 commissioned a nationally representative poll over the weekend which showed that almost twice as many women would support a ban on topless pictures of female models appearing in daily newspapers as would oppose it. In a country
where many people feel uneasy with the word 'ban , these results are certainly striking.
These serious objections to Page 3 are perhaps well rehearsed. But what our polling shows is that many people, far from viewing institutions like Page 3 as harmless fun, in fact see Page 3 as an outdated institution which is,
frankly, a bit embarrassing and needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
I wonder if Leveson appreciates the irony of being asked to make recommendations based on the very sort of unethical bollox that he is supposed to be sorting out.
The MTV reality show Geordie Shore returns on Tuesday. Its first series caused a nutter outcry for having fun with flesh-baring, booze-fuelled debauchery
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah has resumed her long running whinge against the programme for portraying Newcastle as the binge drinking capital of Britain. She spouted:
Geordie Shore is not representative of Newcastle or Geordies.
If people feel that the show does not represent Newcastle they should complain to Ofcom.
However it does seem that drinking is in fact going on in Newcastle and that the city has more female drinkers than most. The local paper, the Chronicle, reported a few days ago that more people in the North East are dying from drink-related
illnesses than ever before. Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed a drinker dies every 18 hours, and the number of women dying from alcohol is the second highest in the country.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said:
Geordie Shore is a perfect example of how drinking at dangerous levels is portrayed as normal. If last year's series is anything to go by, we will see a hand-picked cast of easily influenced young North Easterners who have been sold the lie that
it is perfectly normal and acceptable to drink too much, too often.
Whether it is aware of what it is doing or not, the production and broadcast companies responsible for Geordie Shore are saying to our young people, you can't have fun, be successful or be popular with the opposite sex unless you drink to
The Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle, also branded the show a backward step for the city:
Going out and getting drunk is now the least attractive aspect of where we live and TV programmes like this do us a huge disservice.
A coalition of women's groups have argued that such highly sexualised images presented as part of their submission to the Leveson Inquiry were ubiquitous in the UK media, and called for press censorship to tackle relentless sexism in some
areas of the press.
Four nutter groups, Eaves, End Violence Against Women, Object and Equality Now called on Leveson to back a ban on sexualised images in newspapers, arguing they would not be broadcast on television before the 9pm watershed.
The groups also accused some media outlets of perpetuating myths about rape, which they argued could prevent victims reporting the crime, and called for a tougher regulatory body.
Papers including the Sun, Daily Star and Sunday Sport persistently objectified women, portraying them as a sum of sexualised body parts , claimed Anna van Heeswijk, from Object, a lobby group against the objectification of women.
We have to ask ourselves what kind of story does it tell young people when men in newspapers wear suits, or sports gear, are shown as active participants, and women are sexualised objects who are essentially naked or nearly naked, she said.
The groups are want legislation banning pictures of naked or semi-naked women in newspapers, arguing the images would not be allowed in the workplace because of equality legislation, and should not be sold in an unrestrained manner at children's eye-level
. Leveson said his powers were limited and such a change would require rock-solid legislation .
The groups also called on Leveson to recommend the replacement of the Press Complaints Commission with an independent body with teeth that women and women's groups could complain to directly. The reporting of violence against women and
girls needs to be more balanced and more context needs to be provided about its frequency, they added. Journalists should also receive training on the myths and realities about violence against women and girls, and there should be a code
of practice for the way case studies are dealt with, the groups said.
Jacqui Hunt, of Equality Now, said the groups did not want to curtail press freedom ...BUT... wanted the media to behave more responsibly.
The ever censorial Harriet Hatemen claims to be a champion of press freedom
Newspaper proprietors need urgently to agree a common new system of redress and regulation to put to the Leveson inquiry, according to Harriet Harman, the shadow culture and media secretary.
She said the new system should be independent, apply to all newspapers and be citizen-centric. [Maybe just a slip of the tongue, she probably meant women-centric]. Harman said:
I balk at the notion of press regulation. There should be redress for complaints. I don't think there should be prior restraint, or general ruling on ethics. I also certainly don't think we need a register of approved journalists. Doctors and
journalists are not analogous.
Despite the personal battering she has taken from the rightwing media over pursuit of women's equality, she said she was not interested in settling old scores:
My discussions and arguments have been with the public as much as newspapers.
I am going to be a champion of press freedom.
Offsite: Killjoy Clare Short revives anti-page 3 rant
Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into the ethics of the press heard some impressive, if depressing, evidence this week from women's groups about the continued use of sexualised imagery in some newspapers and about a culture of relentless sexism in
some sections of the press.
In response, he said that his terms of reference did not stretch to such issues. But surely the depiction of half the population in a way that is now illegal on workplace walls and before the watershed in broadcasting, is an issue of media
ethics? Interestingly, the evidence put to the inquiry was censored before circulation to remove the images that are perfectly legal in millions of newspapers that spread across society.
The Leveson Inquiry should also take note of my experience to learn how the media can censor public debate. The deliberate bullying I endured was designed to stop me discussing an issue of public concern and to frighten other women off. This is
not a question of phone hacking or intrusion of privacy, but in some ways it is worse.
Tabloid vilification helped kill off a debate that would have forced Page 3 images out of British newspapers and perhaps obliged the media to behave and report in a less sexist way. Twenty-six years on, Lord Leveson should seriously consider the
case that has been made.
The prudes trying to strip the tabloids of topless pics belittle women far more than any male reader could.
With the Leveson Inquiry currently insisting that the press bares all, campaign groups such as Turn Your Back on Page 3 have spotted an opportunity to force the tabloid's topless ladies to cover themselves up. And all in the name of protecting
girls like me from being terrorised by tits.
Milli Hill of Somerset is a parenting columnist for Somerset Life Magazine and blogger for The Mule.
She has created on online petition entitled
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO: Refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children. The petition urges Amazon (both .com and .co.uk) to stop allowing books that purportedly advocate, endorse, and advise parenting techniques that
involve the physical abuse of children as a disciplinary technique. Examples of some titles targeted by the petition include To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, and Don't Make
Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman. The petition continues:
Such books, and others like them, promote behaviour which is abusive of children. All of the above books advocate the use of a rod and other implements on children under one.
Such behaviour is abusive to children, and it is also 'offensive', which is contrary to Amazon's Content Guidelines.
It may well also be illegal, as it seems to go far beyond the 'reasonable chastisement' currently sanctioned by law in the UK, (where this petition originated) and in many US States. Not only is beating on a regular basis with a rod likely to
leave a mark, which is illegal in the UK, it is also likely to amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, which is a breach of human rights.
We wish Amazon to urgently review their decision to stock any book or other product which advises the physical abuse of children.
The petition currently stands at 10,425. Apparently this includes many notable names in the field of children's rights, psychology, child development, and religious child maltreatment.
Perhaps a little strange that the group does not petition against the religions that prove such a fertile breeding ground for bad attitudes to children.
A poster promoting an album by a rock band, seen in October 2011, showed an image of a woman leaning back with her eyes closed. She was shown wearing a skimpy halter-neck outfit which covered her nipples but left her stomach and the bottom of
her breasts uncovered. Her right hand was placed by her crotch and she was holding a string with two silver balls attached, which dangled between her legs. The band's name appeared in the middle of the image and beneath it, large text stated BALLS OUT
Underneath, the ad showed an image of the four members of the band and text which stated THE NEW ALBUM UNLEASHED FOR HALLOWEEN... Issue
Imkaan, a charity devoted to raising awareness and offering support to women from ethnic backgrounds who were victims of abuse and violence, and four members of the public challenged whether the ad was:
offensive, because they considered the image of the woman was demeaning and overtly sexual in its nature.
Imkaan and three of the members of the public also challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for public display where it might be seen by children.
Universal Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Ltd said that the poster depicted the album cover for the rock band, Steel Panther who were a pastiche of an 80s heavy metal band who took their inspiration from bands such as
Whitesnake and Bon Jovi. The band's stage performance and persona were very tongue in cheek, nothing about them was serious and their concept was a send-up of the typical 80s band, although their music was new and original. They said the poster
was designed to have a retro 80s look which was not done seriously and poked fun at the ridiculousness of the attitude to women, outfits and music in that era. The poster was meant to be ludicrously over the top and not meant to undermine women.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was not meant to cause offence or be seen as demeaning to women. However, we considered that the main image on the poster was overtly sexual. We noted that the pose of the woman
showed her with her legs apart, her hand between her legs and her breasts partially exposed and considered that her facial expression was suggestive of an orgasm and sexual activity. In addition to this, we considered that the album title Balls Out
was sexually suggestive particularly when viewed in the context of the poster, where the woman was seen dangling two silver balls between her legs in a way that we considered was suggestive of male genitalia.
We noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was meant to be viewed humorously and not to be taken seriously as it was meant to represent the over-the-top image of the band featured in the poster. However, we considered that most
people would not view the poster in this way and even if they had viewed it in that context, the poster was overtly sexual when taken as a whole. Given its placement in a range of public locations, we concluded that it was likely to cause serious
and widespread offence, was unsuitable to be seen by children and therefore was not appropriate for outdoor advertising.
The poster breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
A film trailer by the makers of Wallace and Gromit has been criticised for poking fun at people with leprosy.
The scene shows the arrival of the Pirate Captain on board a captive ship, demanding gold. Afraid we don't have any gold old man, this is a leper-boat, explains a crew member. See, he adds as his arm falls off.
Essex-based Lepra Health in Action has expressed disbelief at the scene in Aardman Animation's The Pirates! Adventures with Scientists.
Lepra's president Sir Christian Bonington said:
It might make you laugh but leprosy stigma not only hurts, it is still forcing people to live a life on the fringes of society.
Not only is the dropping off of body parts a total misnomer we have to ask ourselves, as we watch it uncomfortably, is it acceptable for us to be laughing at the millions of people who are disabled by leprosy? '
A spokesman for Bristol-based Aardman said it took criticism like this seriously and was reviewing the matter.
The creator of Wallace & Gromit, Aardman Animations, has bowed to international pressure after being accused of poking fun at leprosy sufferers in its latest blockbuster film.
Aardman have announced that the offending leper scene in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists , set for release in March, will be changed out of respect and sensitivity after being convinced that the scene
could increase stigma and discrimination for millions of leprosy sufferers.
The scene showed the main pirate character landing on a so called leper ship looking for gold, but is then clearly aghast when the leper's arm falls off. It has already been seen on the film's
trailer by hundreds of thousands of people on You Tube and in cinemas worldwide, but Aardman will now remove all offensive references to leprosy.
Chief executive of LEPRA, Sarah Nancollas, said:
We are genuinely delighted that Aardman and Sony Pictures have made this decision, though obviously we will have to wait to see the final film to see it was dealt with.
Hopefully this publicity will help to reduce the damage that has already been done with the use of this trailer across the world.
A poster advertising lingerie, seen on the side of buses in early November 2011, stated Introducing Naked Glamour Calvin Klein Underwear and featured five images of a model wearing a bra and briefs.
The complainant, an Orthodox Cherdi Jew, objected that:
the ad was offensive to the large Orthodox Jewish population of Stamford Hill, whose religious beliefs required them not to see images of women wearing only underwear;
it was irresponsible to display the ad in untargeted media in public as it would be seen by children.
Calvin Klein said they did not believe that the ad was offensive or socially irresponsible. They said the ad merely featured the product, their underwear range, being worn by a model. They believed it was reasonable to feature models wearing
underwear when advertising these products, and that the ad was neither sexually suggestive nor overtly sexual. They also said their media vendor had not believed that the ad fell into the risky category, and had been happy for the ad
campaign to proceed.
ASA Decision: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that there was no explicit nudity in the images, and that the ad was for an underwear range. We considered that the nature of the product meant that viewers of the ad were less likely to regard the ad as gratuitous or offensive, and
noted that the poses of the model were natural. We considered that the ad might be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was
featured. However, although we recognised that some people with strongly held religious views may find the ad distasteful, we did not consider that the ad was likely to cause widespread offence or serious offence to those with religious views.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We noted the complainant's concerns that this ad, displayed on buses, was likely to be seen by children. We considered that the ad may be viewed by some as mildly sexual in nature, as the underwear featured in the largest image appeared sheer in
nature, and the product name Naked Glamour was featured. However, we did not consider that the images were overtly sexual, and considered that the ad was acceptable for use in outdoor media likely to be seen by children. We therefore
concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 1.3 (Social responsibility) but did not find it in breach.
Cherry Healey: Like A Virgin will air on BBC 3 on Thursday 12th January at 9pm.
The BBC publicity material reads:
Losing one's virginity is one of those life-defining moments that can be intimate, exciting and nerve-wracking all rolled into one. But good or bad, Cherry Healey wants to find out if that one simple little act really does have a lasting impact.
From a girl's first time in the back of a Fiat Panda to a guy who has popped his cherry three...
The Daily Express claims that the BBC is under 'pressure' to axe the documentary about teenage sex that the corporation accepts is not educational. The programme includes the word 'fuck' and discussions about oral sex & sex aids.
Vivienne Pattison, of the nutter campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said:
The show is terrible, almost a freak show. It's also irresponsible, inappropriate, disturbing and even exploitative towards some of those featured in it.
For a programme clearly aimed at a teenage audience it is extremely irresponsible not to include any discussion of safe sex.
Pattison plans to lodge an official complaint with the BBC and Ofcom. She is scathing about the lack of sex education in the show:
If this programme is designed to be educational it clearly fails. If however it is designed as entertainment then it is prurient and exploitative.
It is extraordinary that in following a teenager getting ready to lose her virginity, a bikini wax is filmed as an essential part of her preparation but condoms are not even mentioned.
The programme promises 'essential truths amongst the tales of sex and debauchery, to see if losing your virginity is about more than just 'having sex for the first time'.
However, it delivers an inconclusive mix of titillating detail and voyeuristic confessional. This represents a real missed opportunity for discussion on an important subject and information to help viewers make informed choices.
Ex government minister Ann Widdecombe chipped in:
The BBC should not screen this programme. It seems to me that they are just trying to set new boundaries and to do this at 9pm when a lot of young people will still be up is horrendous.
It is difficult to see how parents and teachers have any chance at all of getting young people to behave responsibly if this is the sort of stuff the BBC is promoting.
It will not help with efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy rates in Britain, which are the highest in Europe.
However, Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley and a member of the Commons Culture Select Committee, said:
If people have a problem with it they can switch their TV off.
The Daily Mail has rounded up a handful of people willing to have a knock at Boots for selling sex toys within view of children.
The sex toys are a change of policy for Boots. Seven years ago, the company scrapped plans to sell sex aids alongside toiletries over fears that stocking them could damage its brand.
A Boots spokeswoman said:
We believe a healthy love life can improve overall health and wellbeing and our customers have told us that they would like to buy these products from us.
Approximately 1,200 stores stock these products and we have worked hard to ensure they are discreetly packaged and merchandised.
There are no laws restricting the sale of these products. However, if someone who looks under 16 tries to buy such a product, Boots staff would use their discretion to decide whether it is suitable for them.'
The toys are sold under the banner Sexual Wellbeing and strapline Help you and your partner have a more positive sexual relationship . Example products are the massage devices Durex Play Dream, Play Discover and Play Delight.
The Daily Mail has rounded up a few inconsequential sound bites and presented this as a customer backlash.
Grandmother Julie Burgess said:
I am appalled. It's completely inappropriate. I'm shocked that a store like Boots is selling sex toys, let alone displaying them so openly.
And Scott Millins:
It's quite disgusting. I've got a nine-month-old baby boy and a three-year-old son and it wouldn't be a problem now, but when my young boys are older, that's definitely not the sort of thing I would want them to see. Children shouldn't know
about that sort of thing until they're grown up and in a relationship with someone. It's really not very good at all.
Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe said:
Boots, which is a family store -- and a very popular one at that -- should adopt standards that Ann Summers have been happy to adopt. That says it all.
Sex makes one generation fearful for the next. It has always been so. And in each generation, there are always those who consider the more risque edges of the entertainment industry to be going too far. In 1890s Paris, onlookers took against the
frills and suspenders of can-can dancers. By the 1950s, its Crazy Horse cabaret was making witty mockery of such shows, while itself leaving little to the audience's imagination. At the same time in Britain, nudes posing in tableaux at the
Windmill Theatre were still not permitted to move.
Now I find myself caught up in concerns about the sexualisation of children today. This week, I was quoted as condemning outright Lady Gaga and other performers for seeming obsessed with appearing at their raunchiest in their pop videos and on
prime-time television shows. So have I changed sides? Or has the world changed?
An anti-smoking group staged a protest against characters in soaps lighting up.
Youth group D-MYST donned cardboard TVs to parade through Liverpool in their new Smoke Off campaign.
Members want to get smoking out of pre-watershed television programmes, to prevent under-18s seeing unnecessary smoking images.
They are aiming to get 100,000 online signatures so that Parliament considers debating the issue, and will be asking people to sign postcards which will be sent to the TV censor Ofcom.
Dr Paula Grey, joint director of public health for Liverpool said: Smoking among young people in this city is already at a high level, and anything that can be done to stop young people taking up the habit is to be encouraged.