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MPs identified as totally uncaring for the safety of internet users...

MPs who don't like being insulted on Twitter line up to call for all users to hand over identifying personal details to the likes of Google, Facebook and the Chinese government


Link Here 24th March 2021
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Online Anonymity was debated in the House of Commons debated on Wednesday 13 January 2021.

The long debate was little more than a list of complaints from MPs aggrieved at aggressive comments on social media, often against themselves.

As always seems to be the case with parliamentary debate, it turned into a a long calls of 'something must be done', and hardly comment thinking about the likely and harmful consequences of what they are calling for.

As an example here is part of the complaint from debate opener, Siobhan Bailiie:

The new legislative framework for tech companies will create a duty of care to their users. The legislation will require companies to prevent the proliferation of illegal content and activity online, and ensure that children who use their services are not exposed to harmful content. As it stands, the tech companies do not know who millions of their users are, so they do not know who their harmful operators are, either. By failing to deal with anonymity properly, any regulator or police force, or even the tech companies themselves, will still need to take extensive steps to uncover the person behind the account first, before they can tackle the issue or protect a user.

The Law Commission acknowledged that anonymity often facilitates and encourages abusive behaviours. It said that combined with an online disinhibition effect, abusive behaviours, such as pile-on harassment, are much easier to engage in on a practical level. The Online Harms White Paper focuses on regulation of platforms and the Law Commission's work addresses the criminal law provisions that apply for individuals. It is imperative, in my view, that the Law Commission's report and proposals are fully debated prior to the online harms Bill passing through Parliament. They should go hand in hand.

Standing in Parliament, I must mention that online abuse is putting people off going into public service and speaking up generally. One reason I became interested in this subject was the awful abuse I received for daring to have a baby and be an MP. Attacking somebody for being a mum or suggesting that a mum cannot do this job is misogynistic and, quite frankly, ridiculous, but I would be lying if I said that I did not find some of the comments stressful and upsetting, particularly given I had just had a baby.

Is there a greater impediment to freedom of expression than a woman being called a whore online or being told that she will be raped for expressing a view? It happens. It happens frequently and the authors are often anonymous. Fantastic groups like 50:50 Parliament, the Centenary Action Group, More United and Compassion in Politics are tackling this head on to avoid men and women being put off running for office. One of the six online harm asks from Compassion in Politics is to significantly reduce the prevalence and influence of anonymous accounts online.

The Open Rights Group said more about consequences in a short email than the MPs said in a hour of debate:

Mandatory ID verification would open a Pandora's Box of unintended consequences. A huge burden would be placed on site administrators big and small to own privatised databases of personally identifiable data. Large social media platforms would gain ever more advantage over small businesses, open source projects and startups that lack the resources to comply.

Requirements for formal documentation, such as a bank account, to verify ID would disenfranchise those on low incomes, the unbanked, the homeless, and people experiencing other forms of social exclusion. Meanwhile, the fate of countless accounts and astronomical amounts of legal content would be thrown into jeopardy overnight.

 

 

#JailMen...

Sex workers report on the latest proposed law to criminalise men and endanger women


Link Here22nd March 2021
Full story: Criminalising Paying for Sex in England and Wales...A selfish campaign to lock up men

Paying for sex could become a criminal offence in England and Wales if parliament approves a new private menbers bill which has been put forward by Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North. Johnson has put the bill forward in a bid to protect women from potential sexual exploitation and trafficking, but the proposal could have the opposite effect.

The bill is opposed by sex workers and groups including the Royal College of Nursing, Amnesty International and many harm reduction and women's rights charities. It's argued that those calling for criminalisation are driven by ideology and not evidence, and sadly sex workers are often removed from the conversation in the hallowed halls of parliament.

Currently in the UK a lot of the work is already criminalised. You can sell sex, but you can't solicit it in a public place, and you essentially have to work alone because of laws against running brothels -- two prostitutes working together constitute a brothel in the eyes of the law.

Johnson's bill would impose what is known as the Nordic model. Sweden's 1999 legislation -- which decriminalises the seller of sex and criminalises the client -- is often dubbed as a 'progressive' solution to prostitution and is built on a feminist definition of prostitution as a form of male violence against women. To radical liberal feminists, what's not to like -- punish the men who buy sex in this patriarchal world. The Nordic model is legislated in Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Sweden and Northern Ireland in a bid to reduce demand and ultimately abolish the trade.

But the idea of the model is misleading and in fact evidence shows it has led to more violence against prostitutes in all of these countries. Attacks against sex workers in Ireland alone have risen by 92%, since the introduction of the model in March 2017.

The bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 9th December 2020 and was originally given a 2nd reading date of 21st of January 2021 but this didn't occur. The wording of the bill hasn't been published and the only information published so far is the description:

A Bill to criminalise paying for sex; to decriminalise selling sex; to create offences relating to enabling or profiting from another person's sexual exploitation; to make associated provision about sexual exploitation online; to make provision for support services for victims of sexual exploitation; and for connected purposes.

 

 

And through the square window...

Floella Benjamin attempts to resuscitate internet porn age verification in a Domestic Abuse Bill


Link Here11th February 2021
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Campaigners for the revival of deeply flawed and one sided age verification for porn scheme have been continuing their efforts to revive it ever since it was abandoned by the Government in October 2019.

The Government was asked about the possibility of restoring it in January 2021 in the House of Commons. Caroline Dinenage responded for the government:

The Government announced in October 2019 that it will not commence the age verification provisions of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 and instead deliver these protections through our wider online harms regulatory proposals.

Under our online harms proposals, we expect companies to use age assurance or age verification technologies to prevent children from accessing services which pose the highest risk of harm to children, such as online pornography. The online harms regime will capture both the most visited pornography sites and pornography on social media, therefore covering the vast majority of sites where children are most likely to be exposed to pornography. Taken together we expect this to bring into scope more online pornography currently accessible to children than would have been covered by the narrower scope of the Digital Economy Act.

We would encourage companies to take steps ahead of the legislation to protect children from harmful and age inappropriate content online, including online pornography. We are working closely with stakeholders across industry to establish the right conditions for the market to deliver age assurance and age verification technical solutions ahead of the legislative requirements coming into force.

In addition, Regulations transposing the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive came into force on 1 November 2020 which require UK-established video sharing platforms to take appropriate measures to protect minors from harmful content. The Regulations require that the most harmful content is subject to the strongest protections, such as age assurance or more technical measures. Ofcom, as the regulatory authority, may take robust enforcement action against video sharing platforms which do not adopt appropriate measures.

Now during the passage of the Domestic Abuse in the House of Lords, Floella Benjamin attempted to revive the age verification requirement by proposing the following amendment:

Insert the following new Clause --

Impact of online pornography on domestic abuse

(1) Within three months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must commission a person appointed by the Secretary of State to investigate the impact of access to online pornography by children on domestic abuse.

(2) Within three months of their appointment, the appointed person must publish a report on the investigation which may include recommendations for the Secretary of State.

(3) As part of the investigation, the appointed person must consider the extent to which the implementation of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (online pornography) would prevent domestic abuse, and may make recommendations to the Secretary of State accordingly.

(4) Within three months of receiving the report, the Secretary of State must publish a response to the recommendations of the appointed person.

(5) If the appointed person recommends that Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 should be commenced, the Secretary of State must appoint a day for the coming into force of that Part under section 118(6) of the Act within the timeframe recommended by the appointed person.

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would require an investigation into any link between online pornography and domestic abuse with a view to implementing recommendations to bring into effect the age verification regime in the Digital Economy Act 2017 as a means of preventing domestic abuse.

Floella Benjamin made a long speech supporting the censorship measure and was supported by a number of peers. Of course they all argued only from the 'think of the children' side of the argument and not one of them mentioned trashed adult businesses and the risk to porn viewers of being outed, scammed, blackmailed etc.

See Floella Benjamin's speech from hansard.parliament.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: Open Rights Group comment on declining freedom of speech in the UK...


Link Here17th January 2021
Response to the Lords Communications Committee enquiry into freedom of expression online

See article from openrightsgroup.org


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