Scottish politicians have been queuing up to blame online porn for a 10% rise in reported sexual offences in Scotland.
East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson called for ISPs to use a system of default blocking for adult content on websites. She said:
It's very difficult to pin down exactly what is causing these attitudes by young people, but given that there's very easily available pornography online -- and not just the lads mag, page three images, but really
explicit, hardcore pornography -- it's not hard to imagine that it helps to create a warped view of relationships.
Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont added:
We need to investigate measures such
as having filters switched on as the default option, or blocking all adult content unless you decide otherwise.
Glasgow MP John Robertson said more needs to be done to raise parental awareness of the security tools available to them.
A new bill to make prostitution illegal in Scotland is to be put before the Scottish parliament this week.
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant wants to see a bill fast-tracked through Holyrood, claiming it will reduce demand for prostitution by criminalising
those who buy sex. She said the proposals could be passed rapidly through the parliamentary process as the previous consultation meant there was no need to repeat this:
Practical, operational, legal, equality and
financial considerations have been explored to a sufficient degree to test, develop and refine my specific proposal and enable me to proceed towards the development of a bill. I have continued to liaise with organisations on this topic.
Views expressed to me so far, as part of my on-going engagement with a number of bodies, the public and others with an interest in this proposal, confirm that the views expressed during the formal consultation process have not
Currently kerb crawling, running brothels and soliciting for prostitution are all outlawed in Scotland but it is still legal for an adult to pay another adult for sex without any offence being committed.
Government says it will give careful consideration to the new proposals after similar plans were rejected two years ago. Former Labour MSP Trish Godman's proposals in the Criminal Justice and Licensing bill were turned down by ministers who feared
it would make the problem less visible to the authorities.
Grant, a Highland and Islands list MSP, is essentially taking over the Godman proposals, and will tell Holyrood's justice committee this week that she thinks there is no need to go through
the lengthy consultation process that usually accompanies new bills again.
The original bill met with concerns from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), which warned that it could drive prostitution off the street
and into areas where it is harder to identify vulnerable women and enforce the law. Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs on the justice committee he was not looking for additional powers in this area.
A Scottish Government
spokesperson said: Prostitution damages the individuals caught up in selling sex and the communities involved. It is a complex issue which requires careful consideration to ensure that any additional measures which may be required to be put in place
are necessary, practicable and sustainable. We will give careful consideration to any bill which Rhoda Grant brings forward on this matter.
Rhoda Grant is to press ahead with her selfish plans to criminalise prostitution in Scotland but her attempt to fast-track new legislation through parliament was blocked..
Holyrood's justice committee ruled that a 12-week consultation on
the measures, which would make it an offence for someone to purchase sex from another adult, must be carried out by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant who said:
I look forward to hearing the responses to the further
consultation on these proposals.
Overwhelmingly, the feedback that I have received to date makes clear that reducing the demand for prostitution can be achieved by making the purchasing of sex illegal.
look forward to the parliament considering more consultation feedback in the coming months and a full debate on my proposals that will protect Scottish women.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, from the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birbeck, University of London, has researched and written about the sex industry. She said the Scottish legislation proposal was not supported by any evidence that it would help
It's McCarthyism in the bedroom
The prisons are at bursting point so to fill them with people who use prostitutes and to give them a criminal record is lunacy.
It would be a retrograde step and would make things worse.
The people this legislation would most harm are the people they are proposing to help.
She said the best way to protect sex workers
was to treat violence against them as a hate crime and build a strong relationship between the police and prostitutes so they felt that if they approached them for help their complaint would be taken seriously
Children are being encouraged to take part in sexual activity by exposure to hardcore pornography on their mobile phones, the deputy children's commissioner has claimed.
Sue Berelowitz was giving evidence to the home affairs select committee which
is investigating the issue of street grooming and child sexual exploitation after nine British Asian men in Rochdale were convicted for grooming and abusing vulnerable young girls.
The case, along with several others in the north of England over
the last three years, has provided some evidence that street grooming of young girls, often from children's homes, is disproportionately being carried out by Asian men who target white victims. The five victims were plied with food, alcohol, drugs and
gifts so they could be passed around a group of men for sex.
Berelowitz told the committee the issue of ethnicity was complex. She said there was a particular pattern of Asian men and white girls as revealed by the Rochdale case and others, but
she said it was a pattern among many other patterns of child sexual exploitation.
She said the issue of how social networking, BBM messaging and pornography was being used as part of the exploitation of children and young people, often by
teenagers not much older than themselves, was of serious concern.
She said she was concerned about the viewing of pornography by young people, which contributed to the problem of child sexual exploitation.
are watching it and then they are enacting it. Parents think they know what their child is watching ... the reality is children can get anything they like on their mobile phones and they are. This is affecting children's thresholds of what they think is
Social networking sites can be a source of real problems in this area. They [the perpetrators] are sometimes filming their victims, girls are making themselves vulnerable by filming themselves ...
The sexual exploitation and grooming of young vulnerable white girls is a particular problem in Asian communities , one of Britain's top prosecutors
admitted for the first time today.
In a year when several paedophile gangs were convicted of raping and prostituting victims in north west England, Nazir Afzal says it is impossible not to notice that the perpetrators were Asian and the victims
The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the region added that cultural baggage and the status of women among some men in these communities contributes to their disrespect for the rights of women.
It came as the Commons Home
Affairs Select Committee announced yesterday a day of evidence next week because its members and chairman Keith Vaz are very concerned by the recent cases of child exploitation. The Labour MP for Leicester East has previously said: I do not
think it is a race issue.'
Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said: The committee were shocked to hear that the number of victims of child sexual exploitation runs into the thousands.
Child grooming is a national issue that requires thorough investigation.
The Daily Mail introduces its latest propaganda piece:
Children are being scarred for life by stumbling across internet pornography before their brains are able to cope with it, according to a leading neuroscientist.
Dr William Struthers told MPs
that in eight out of ten cases, youngsters come across hard-core images by accident. If they are between nine and 14, when their bodies are becoming sexually mature but their brains are not emotionally developed, early exposure can lead to lasting damage
including withdrawn behaviour and acting out what they see onscreen.
Dr Struthers was speaking at a House of Commons seminar sponsored by Claire Perry, the Tory MP who wants to block web porn from computers unless adults opt
Dr Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College, Illinois, found that research subjects were able to recall the first images of porn they ever saw in remarkable detail even though they could not
remember images they had seen more recently.
He said that impact was profound because although the hypothalamus, the region of the brain which controls sexual development, is preparing the body for sexual maturity, the higher
thinking regions of the brain are not developed enough to deal with viewing extreme sex.
I wonder if the MPs were informed about where Dr Struthers is coming from.
Wheaton College introduces itself on its website as follows:
Welcome to Wheaton College---a community of grace. As an academically rigorous, four-year Christian liberal arts college and graduate school, we seek to honor Jesus Christ with mind, soul, body, and strength.
We praise God for your interest and pray that in some way your contact with Wheaton College will serve the sacred purpose expressed in our historic motto: 'For Christ and His Kingdom.' ---Philip Ryken 88, Presiden t
Wheaton College is an explicitly Christian, academically rigorous, fully residential liberal arts college and graduate school located in Wheaton, Illinois. Established in 1860, Wheaton is guided by its original mission to provide
excellence in Christian higher education, and offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, and 14 graduate degrees.
Dr William Struthers has written a book titled Wired for Intimacy: How
Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain . The promotional book description reads:
Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture as been pornified, and it shapes our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the
value of women and the nature of relationships. Countless Christian men struggle with the addictive power of porn. But common spiritual approaches of more prayer and accountability groups are often of limited help. In this book neuroscientist and
researcher William Struthers explains how pornography affects the male brain and what we can do about it. Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. By better understanding
the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives and interpersonal relationships. Struthers exposes false assumptions and casts a vision for a redeemed masculinity, showing how our sexual longings can
actually propel us toward sanctification and holiness in our bodies. With insights for both married and single men alike, this book offers hope for freedom from pornography.
House of Commons, Questions re Culture, Media and Sport, 16th May 2012.
Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his
Department has any plans to place further restrictions on the content of video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik.
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and
Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
The Government is currently moving towards strengthening the laws in respect of video game regulation. We have recently announced our intention to
designate officers of the Video Standards Council as the authorities responsible for the classification of video games. When that process is complete, it will for the first time be a legal requirement for all video games suitable for those aged 12 or
over to be classified. It will be an offence to supply a video game in breach of its classification. In addition, there is one extra safeguard in the UK that is not part of the general Pan European Games Information scheme that we will be using: in the
UK, there will be the option of refusing classification where a video game cannot fit within the published PEGI criteria. If a game that |s not exempt has no classification, it will be an offence to supply it to anyone.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many representations his Department has received from the Pan European Game Information Service in relation to newly-published video games.
The Pan European Games Information system is the mechanism by which video games are rated. The bodies that implement the scheme are independent of Government and have not made
any representations about newly-published video games
Labour's shadow media minister Helen Goodman has called for curbs on merchandising by children's television programmes, claiming that the proliferation of products is placing an intolerable burden on hard-up parents.
Speaking at a Westminster media
forum, Financing Children's Media , Goodman called for limits to the growth of merchandising.
Speaking as a parliamentarian I am not enamoured of ideas to liberalise rules and allow more product placement and merchandising.
Governments are also responsible for preventing the economic exploitation of children, she claimed.
Speaking after her speech, she added: Parents do become quite tired of being pestered to provide things they might not be able to afford.
Early day motion 3014: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES (No. 2)
Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz
That this House is reminded of the consequences of the ineffectual Pan European Game Information (PEGI) classification
system for video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik about the tragic events in Norway in July 2011;
notes that in his submission of evidence to the court Breivik describes how he trained for the attacks using the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ;
is disturbed that Breivik used the game
to help hone his target acquisition and the suggestion that the simulation prepared him for the attacks;
is concerned that PEGI as a classification system can only provide an age-rating and not restrict ultra-violent
content; recognises that in an era of ever-more sophisticated and realistic game-play more robust precautions must be taken before video games are published; and
calls on the Government to provide for closer scrutiny of
aggressive first-person shooter video games.
I've written extensively on the subject of web blocking to protect children from harmful content like pornography so I'll try and keep this short.
If you turned the internet off tomorrow you wouldn't stop kids getting hold of digital porn
General content filtering is impractical and imperfect. It doesn't even stop all accidental or
incidental exposure and it certainly doesn't stop a motivated person or child getting to what they want with minimum technical knowledge.
Content filters over-block and prevent access to clean, lawful content and
this impacts legitimate businesses
Even if content filters got much better, there is no one-size fits all. If you have children aged 7, 11 and 15 there is clearly content OK for a 15-year-old you wouldn't want your
7-year-old watching. So what level of content filtering do you want enabled by default on all connections?
Senior Labour MPs have supported a default block on adult websites.
Jenny Chapman, the shadow minister for justice, and Helen Goodman, the shadow minister for culture, media and sport, pledged their support.
In an article for the Daily Mail
they condemned the access to pornography as a modern-day form of pollution . They wrote:
Children are regularly seeing pornography and sometimes being groomed for sex. Righting these wrongs is not an attack on
civil liberties. Adults will still have the choice to access material they want to see.
But in a civilised society we must also protect our children. What we want to see is the same balance of rights and responsibilities as we
have in the real world.
They also claimed that sales of televisions with internet access meant even more children will be one click from the strongest material .
They attacked Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposal,
which involves asking the four major ISPs to offer new customers the chance to opt out of access to pornography. They argue it would be 2017 before the proportion of households included reached 90%. They added that the plan does not go nearly far enough.
Naomi Gummer, a public policy analyst at Google, said it was a myth that laws can prevent children from viewing explicit material, because the pace of technological development would render legislation a blunt instrument .
calling on the Government to introduce an opt-in system which would mean users would be automatically excluded from accessing internet pornography unless they specifically indicated they wanted to view them.
But Miss Gummer said many
parents are complicit in allowing their children to view social networking sites despite being too young and only a minority of children had been upset by what they had seen online.
She told a conference of child welfare experts:
The idea that laws can adequately protect young people is a myth. Technology is moving so fast that legislation is a blunt tool for addressing these challenges. But also the truth is that parents are complicit in their
kids using underage social networking sites. It is about education, not using legislative leavers.
She added that the extent of sexual content online was exaggerated:
25% of kids have seen sexual
images, but only 14% saw them online. Of that, 4% say they were upset by the images, 2% of those images are hard-core and violent and the rest is nudity in the same way as perhaps seen in the offline world.
Meanwhile nanny statist Claire Perry doesn't believe in censorship...BUT...
Claire Perry's parliamentary inquiry sponsored by Premier Christian Media has reiterated her call for a default ISP block on adult content.
Anyone wanting to view hardcore images online [or any other adult content such as Melon Farmers] would have
to opt out of the default blocking, according to a panel of MPs and peers looking into child protection.
Their report said that six out of ten children download adult material because their parents have not installed filters. The use of
blocking filters in homes has fallen from 49% to 39% in the last three years.
They concluded that parents were often outsmarted by their web-savvy children and felt unconfident in updating and downloading content filters. Many parents were oblivious
to the type of material available on the internet and were often 'shocked' when they realised the content that children were accessing.
Claire Perry, the Tory MP who chaired the non-governmental Parliamentary Inquiry on Online Child
This is hugely worrying. While parents should be responsible for their children's online safety, in practice, people find it difficult to put content filters on the plethora of internet-enabled
devices in their homes.
The inquiry called for ISPs to offer one-click filtering for all devices within a year. This would block out adult content for all domestic broadband users and stop them accessing pornography on mobiles
and iPads as well as PCs and laptops.
The inquiry said that the Government should launch an official inquiry into internet filtering and ministers should seek backstop legal powers to intervene should the ISPs fail to implement an appropriate
Carefully selected witnesses before the inquiry pointed to changes in the availability of hard-core images: As a result, more hard-core imagery is now available in the "free shop front" of commercial porn sites, the
report said. It also found that only 3% of porn sites asked for proof of age and 66% did not contain any warning that they were for adults only.
Comment: Claire Perry's default blocking would censor adults and fail
Commenting on Claire Perry's committee findings, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:
These recommendations, if enacted, would endanger children, create disruption for small business, and
would not work technically.
Default filtering is a form of censorship. Adults should not have to opt out of censorship. Governments should not be given powers to default censor legal material that adults see online.
Our work on mobile networks is showing that default censorship is disrupting businesses, campaign groups and bloggers. Yet it is trivial for a child to avoid the network blocking that Claire Perry recommends - sites using https are
invisible to network blocks. Furthermore, default blocks may be appropriate for some older children, but too weak for others.
Parents need help, but 'default blocking' is an appalling proposal.
Comment: And for a little light relief, why not try the Daily Mail. They do a Jackson Pollox, throwing all sorts of negative terms at an empty canvas, to see what mess it makes
Elspeth Howe's Bill introduced to the House of Lords a few days ago required ISPs to default to a censored internet feed until an adult subscriber requests otherwise and verifies that they are adult.
The bill also requires internet devices to be
sold with pre-installed blocking software and to provide information about internet safety.
However it is a private members bill and is rather muddying the water for alternative initiatives undertaken by industry in response to pressure from the
government and nutter campaigners.
For the moment the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said it would not support the bill, as industry was already taking steps to address the issue. A DCMS spokesman said:
We understand the sentiment behind this Private Members Bill, but it isn’t something that Government would support. Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in
delivering flexible solutions that work for both industry and consumers.
Howe's Bill reads:
Online Safety Bill (HL Bill 137)
1 Duty to provide a service that excludes
(1) Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes pornographic images unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been
(2) Where mobile telephone network operators provide a telephone service to subscribers which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes pornographic images unless all the
conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.
(3) The conditions are---
(a) the subscriber opts-in to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images;
(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and
(c) the provider of the service has an age verification policy which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.
(4) In subsection (3)---
opts-in means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic
2 Duty to provide a means of filtering online content
Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of
20filtering content from an internet access service at the time the device is purchased.
3 Duty to provide information about online safety
service providers and mobile telephone network operators must provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information about online safety to customers at the time the internet service is purchased and shall make such 5information available for the
duration of the service.
Note, the definition of “pornographic” is taken from the Dangerous Pictures Act:
An image is
“pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.