Iceland's minister of interior, Ögmundur Jónasson, is backing a full online pornography ban for Iceland, which would be supported by an 'anti-shield' preventing internet users from accessing certain sites.
assistant, Halla Gunnarsdóttir, is even more misguided. She claimed in an interview that if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet. It is obvious that she is unaware how the internet works; "walls"
around it won't work unless you want to create your own internet, very much like they are doing in Iran.
Thankfully, the possibility that this bill will pass through the parliament is near zero. The parliamentary committee tasked
with discussing the censorship proposal, which I am part of, is looking into alternative ways to help parents to protect their children from online porn, mainly through free porn-filter software and educational means -- as suggested by a recent report
produced by Unicef in Iceland.
Introducing censorship without compromising freedom of expression and speech is like trying to mix oil and water: it is impossible. I know my fellow MPs can often turn strange and dangerous laws into
reality, but this won't be one of them.
Hildur Fjo'la Antonsdo'ttir, a 'gender specialist' at Iceland University, said:
This initiative is about narrowing the definition of porn so it does not include all sexually explicit material but rather
material that can be described as portraying sexual activity in a violent or hateful way.
Update: The clearest description yet of Iceland's proposed censorship of internet porn
Halla Gunnarsdóttir is political adviser to the minister of the interior in Iceland. She is a former journalist and has an MA in international relations. She writes:
Pornography can reach children in
different ways, but it is evident that the probability of a child becoming an adult without seeing porn is close to zero. This is a matter of concern since mainstream internet porn is becoming increasingly violent and brutal. It does not simply consist
of images of naked bodies, or of people having sex but of hardcore violence framed within the context of sex. Young women are usually referred to as sluts, whores, bitches etc, and represented as submissive. Men, meanwhile, often act in a dominant,
degrading and violent way towards them. A fairly typical example could include a mouth-penetration, performed to produce choking, crying or even vomiting. The violent misogyny produced by the porn industry has become our children's main resource for
learning what sex is about, which is a cause of serious concern.
In response to the above-mentioned expert concerns, three ministries -- the ministry of the interior, the ministry of education, science and culture and the ministry
of welfare -- called upon a wide range of professionals to discuss and analyse the societal effects of violent pornography and to contribute to the development of a comprehensive, holistic policy. Proposals emerging from this process are now being
implemented under the auspices of the three ministries. These include increased emphasis on violence prevention, revision of sex education and the forming of a comprehensive policy on sexual health. The proposals on legal amendments -- now under
consideration at the ministry of the interior -- are, however, the ones that have received the most attention.
Firstly, a bill is being prepared with the aim of narrowing the legal definition of pornography -- the distribution of which is already illegal -- to encompass only violent and degrading sexual material. The goal is to make the
important distinction between sex, on the one hand, and violence, on the other. This approach is based on the Norwegian penal code.
Secondly, a committee, headed by the ministry, is now exploring how the law can be
implemented. The key question pertains to the possibility of placing restrictions on online distribution of violent and degrading pornography in Iceland. Under discussion are both technical solutions and legal and procedural measures.
Ţröstur Jónasson at the Association of Digital Freedom in Iceland has branded Minister of Interior Ögmundur Jónasson's proposal to block the distribution of online pornography unfeasible.
The minister has set up a working group to look into
how the police could block pornographic content.
According to Ţröstur, ensuring that internet services block pornography would require that all content goes through a filter. Ţröstur argues that this means that ultimately someone will have the
role of deciding what is ok and what is not..
Ögmundur has claimed that restricting access to pornography online is somehow not censorship, and has said that the issue must be discussed:
If we cannot discuss a
ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime, then that is not good.
A current law banning the import, publication and distribution
of pornography in Iceland was written before the advent of online pornography.
Update: A few more details about the proposed censorship
Minister for censorship Ogmundur Jonasson has set up working parties to find ways to block online images and videos being accessed by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.
Methods under consideration include blocking porn
IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites.
Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to the Interior Minister, said the agreement among education experts, law enforcers and other bodies that action must
be taken means she is optimistic the proposals will become law, despite a general election in April. She says: 'There is a strong consensus building in Iceland.