Restricting niche porn sites is bad news for people with marginalised sexualities

Posted at 09:41 on 30 Nov 2016 by Pandora Blake

Restricting niche porn sites is a disaster for people with marginalised sexualities - Pandora Blake for The Guardian

Last week I had an article published in the Guardian about the impact of the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill, and its proposed restrictions on online porn. You can read it here - Restricting niche porn sites is a disaster for people with marginalised sexualities.

The article has received over one and a half thousand comments - and I was pleasantly astonished to discover that the majority of them are sympathetic or supportive. It seems that many people share my outrage that the Government think it a worthwhile use of time and money to legislate what consenting adults do for fun - or think that this bill is a proportionate, workable answer to the problems emerging from young people's lack of sex education.

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn, Guardian, in the news, kink acceptance, Kink Olympixxx, law, media, Myles Jackman, Obscene Publications Act, obscenity, porn, protest

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Written evidence submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Digital Economy Bill

Posted at 12:29 on 28 Oct 2016 by Pandora Blake

Digital Economy Bill

Written evidence submitted by Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake (DEB 61)

 

Who we are

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, freedom of expression, Myles Jackman, obscenity, politics, porn, privacy, R18

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Announcing the Backlash Kink Olympixxx - changing the rules for adult games

Posted at 17:39 on 4 Oct 2016 by Pandora Blake

The Backlash Kink Olympixxx: Mon 17 October, Houses of Parliament

I'm finally ready to announce some exciting news that I've been working on behind the scenes for over a month - ever since I realised the full extent of the harm that will be done by the Digital Economy Bill. The bill is currently going through Parliament, and proposes to bring in mandatory age verification for online porn without any provisions to safeguard the personal privacy and sexual liberty of web users. The bill has been debated twice by MPs and on 8th October will go through to the committee stage; and yet none of the concerns which I and other civil liberties activists have raised have yet been satisfactorily addressed. 

Do you want to have to enter personal identifying details before you're allowed to look at porn - such as your real name, address, or date of birth? Do you trust porn sites to keep this data secure - and do you want a database of your accumulated porn browsing history to be owned by private companies, exploited for commercial gain and at risk of Ashley Madison style data breaches that would leak your personal sexual preferences into the public domain?

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Tags: AVMS, Backlash, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, Myles Jackman, obscenity, politics, porn, protest

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The Adult Provider Network discusses problems with the Digital Economy Bill

Posted at 12:29 on 28 Sep 2016 by Pandora Blake

The Adult Provider Network

Last month I attended the second meeting of the newly reinstated Adult Provider Network - an adult industry trade association formed last month to co-ordinate responses to the Digital Economy Bill. It was an absolutely fascinating meeting, and I learned a lot. Read on to discover how this will actually affect your business if you run a UK porn site, why the bill potentially discriminates against the visually impaired, and how the bill risks creating a new trade barrier between UK industry and overseas.

Who are the Adult Provider Network?

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Tags: Adult Provider Network, age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, health and disability, MindGeek, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, sex education, surveillance, technology, young people

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Age verification: The Digital Economy Bill and what it means

Posted at 22:30 on 30 Aug 2016 by Pandora Blake

The government have published their reply to the consultation responses we submitted earlier this year on their proposed policy to enforce age verification for UK viewers of online porn. These proposals are not evidence-based, are classist to the core, and have worrying implications for privacy and freedom of speech. Along with many of you, I submitted a response to the consultation in April, which you can read in full here (it's split into six parts - turns out I had a lot to say). My response was also submitted to the Liberal Democrat policy committee, as well as to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the civil service. 

Since then I've attended meetings with representatives from DCMS, the UK Adult Producer trade association, and the Adult Provider Network to discuss the age verification proposals. In these meetings the civil servants I spoke to worked hard to come across as reasonable, open-minded, and interested in listening to our concerns and improving the proposals. But now they've published their official response to the consultation, it's clear that this was a performance purely for our benefit. The Digital Economy Bill reproduces the original policy proposal pretty much unchanged; which in turn is drawn straight from a Conservative party manifesto pledge. It seems that the consultation was a mere box-ticking exercise, paying lip-service to the of listening to experts, industry and the public, but without any intention to actually take the responses into account. Despite seeming open to criticism when we met in person, the official response makes it clear that they don't care what we think, and intend to go ahead with the proposals as if the consultation had never taken place. 

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Tags: age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, credit cards, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, surveillance, technology, young people

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Porn performers talk about the UK porn laws

Posted at 12:32 on 7 Aug 2016 by Pandora Blake

I made this documentary about the UK porn laws about a year ago, using interviews that were shot as part of my sponsored caning fundraiser to raise money for Backlash, the non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting for sexual freedom in the UK. In case you weren't following at the time, this protest project was intended to help fund them to provide legal support to producers affected by the AVMS regulations, which had recently criminalised the depiction of a whole slew of consensual fetish activities in online porn. Myself and nine other spanking enthusiasts volunteered to take one hard cane stroke per £10 raised, to a maximum of 50 strokes per person. We made a colossal £3836 in total, which was donated in its entirety to Backlash.

Each of the ten sponsored canings was filmed and released under Creative Commons - you can view them for free at Dreams of Spanking. We shot an interview with each participant before the caning itself, giving them the opportunity to talk about porn criminalisation, censorship, and why they cared about the UK legislation enough to put their bottoms on the line to help fight it. It amused me no end that when ATVOD were investigating my site, they had to sit through these interviews and listen to lots of well-articulated criticism about themselves before getting to watch the free caning scenes that they were so incensed about.

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Tags: Alex Reynolds, Ariel Anderssen, ATVOD, AVMS regulations, BBFC, censorship, classification, documentary, Jilly Boyd, Nimue Allen, Ofcom, Pandora Blake, Paul Kennedy, porn law, Rosie Bottomley, Sarah, sponsored caning, Vincent Brennan

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How to respond to the age verification consultation

Posted at 19:13 on 5 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

A working group called the “UK council for child internet safety” have published a 44 page proposal document outlining new plans whose stated intention is to ‘protect children online’. The proposals have worrying implications for privacy and freedom of speech, and are based on questionable assumptions and widely-debunked statistics and studies. If they go ahead, online age verification will become compulsory for anyone in the UK wishing to view any web page anywhere in the world on which adult content (still images or video) is hosted. If a site does not install an approved age verification system, the government wants to be able to contact the site's billing agent to cut off their income, and/or their hosting provider to have the site taken offline entirely. These proposals formed part of the government's pre-election manifesto, which also promised the construction of a UK-wide firewall blocking adult sites that failed to comply.

If you think this is a bad idea, please respond to the consultation by midday on 12 April 2016 - that's one week from today. 

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, BBFC, censorship, civil liberties, CPS, digital liberties, ethical porn, feminist porn, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, net filters, obscenity, Ofcom, OPA, piracy, politics, porn, privacy, sex education, surveillance, tube sites

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Where do the AVMS guidelines come from?

Posted at 22:13 on 13 Jul 2015 by Pandora Blake

When I talk to someone about the AVMS guidelines, which control what content it is now legal to distribute online in the UK, their first question is always how on earth these regulations came to pass. Why is facesitting banned, but not gagging on cock? Why can UK video producers not show female ejaculation, but male ejaculation is permissible? Why are the guidelines weirdly specific on the details of a high number of niche activities only found within female domination porn - such as trampling, ballbusting, facesitting, scissoring, wrestling, urethral sounds, anal insertion and BDSM pain play - but no mention is made of countless other obscure fetishes?

A preview photo from Femme Fatale Films, which definitely doesn't depict any of ATVOD's banned acts.

After I describe these inconsistencies, the person I'm talking to usually makes a face as they try to imagine how such a bizarre list of banned acts could possibly be compiled. Perhaps they envisage a group of old white men sitting in a boardroom, listing all the fetishes they can think of on a whiteboard, deleting some and underlining others. Half the fetishes on the internet they have never heard of, so they don't get a mention. None of these old white men have ever made a woman squirt, so the consensus is that female ejaculation is a myth, and probably urine - better ban it. But perhaps some of them have guiltily visited a dominatrix or watched femdom porn, so those activities are on their radar - along with all the attendant anxiety of a repressed sexuality. It's potent stuff, they might think, but it's also clearly morally suspect. Best to remove the temptation and ban it all together.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, BBFC, censorship, CPS, fisting, kink activism, obscenity, OPA, politics

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Online porn: the canary in the coalmine

Posted at 19:35 on 1 Dec 2014 by Pandora Blake

Today in the UK, the law changed regarding the sort of content that can be sold online as "video on demand", to bring online regulations in line with the existing guidelines for the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). Video on Demand (VoD) services are regulated by the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), which restricts the types of sexual content that UK VoD distributors can provide. In other words, online porn sales are now subject to the same restrictions as DVD sales, and it is no longer legal to sell online anything which could not be classified by the BBFC as R-18. Myles Jackman has posted an in-depth article describing exactly what is restricted as of December 1.

This is a huge blow for freedom of expression. The internet was until now the last resort of adult film-makers who wished to produce a broader range of content than that admitted by the BBFC.

Under the new legislation, UK distributors are no longer allowed to sell content depicting bondage and gags, fisting, public sex, age play, facesitting, urination, female ejaculation, and spanking and caning beyond that deemed "transient and trifling".

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Tags: atvod, AVMS, bbfc, censorship, Extreme porn legislation, Fairtrade porn, Female gaze, feminist porn, Gender politics, Kink activism, Politics, Queer politics

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