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 does it feel to fight the law - and win?

Posted at 18:10 on 9 Jun 2016 by Pandora Blake

On Monday it was officially announced that I'd won my appeal to Ofcom against the ATVOD decision that forced Dreams of Spanking offline last year. "Congratulations!" people have been saying, "You must be over the moon." And so I reply that I am. I tell the papers that I'm overjoyed, because that's the story: I fought the law, and I won. This is my moment of triumph. Of course I'm delighted.

But how does it really feel?

Even here - my blog that is more political than personal these days, but still the closest thing I have to an online journal - I'm not sure if I should stick to the "official" story. You want to hear how happy I am, right? And I am happy. I am. I think. But the truth is that with events this huge, processing emotions can be more complicated than that. I've been struggling to access my happiness over the last few weeks, since I first found out that I was going to win. I thought that it would all connect up on Monday, when the win was announced, but I still find myself feeling weirdly ambivalent. And hey, this blog has always been about authenticity, so you get to hear all about it.

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Tags: appeal win, ATVOD, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, Ofcom

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BREAKING NEWS: Ofcom have upheld my appeal against ATVOD!

Posted at 10:11 on 6 Jun 2016 by Pandora Blake

FEMINIST PORN MAKER THRASHES CENSOR

Pandora Blake, award-winning activist and feminist pornographer, has won her appeal to Ofcom against ATVOD and can reinstate her site Dreams of Spanking, which was banned under the AVMS guidelines in August 2015, triggering widespread anger among free speech advocates as well as porn fans.

The controversial Audiovisual Media Services Regulations came into effect in December 2014, banning consensual sex acts from online porn including facesitting, female ejaculation, and spanking that leaves marks. Pandora Blake took part in the 'facesitting protest' outside Westminster, and also spoke on Newsnight and Women's Hour challenging the sexist and regressive nature of the regulations. She believes that speaking out made her a target for censorship.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn, Ofcom

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Age verification: Young people, porn and sex education

Posted at 14:51 on 27 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

Response to the Government consultation on Child Safety Online: Age Verification for Pornography

1: Evidence of Harm

2: Sex education

The consultation opens with the bold claim that:

"The UK is a world leader in child online safety" (p4)

In the context of recent revelations showing how unsafe children in the UK are at the hands of exploitative individuals abusing their power within church, political and media institutions, this opening sentence is in poor taste. The Government's obsession with conjuring a demon to fight in the form of online pornography, while ignoring the real problems of child sexual exploitation, poor sex education, unsafe sex, and sexual violence faced by young people in our society, is reminiscent of the politician's syllogism: "We must do something! This is something - therefore we must do it!" Policy-makers would be far better served by devoting their energies to reducing real incidents of child sexual exploitation, that have caused provable and lasting harm, rather than going to great lengths to defeat the nebulous and unprovable harms of online pornography.

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, censorship, child safety, DCMS, gender politics, media, Ofcom, politics, porn, R18 material, sex critical, sex education, sex positive, young people

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Age verification consultation response: Evidence of harm

Posted at 20:59 on 14 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

I recently responded to a Government consultation proposing mandatory age verification for porn - not only within the UK, but worldwide. This is an expanded version of my response, the first of several posts. Before the deadline, I posted a list of key bullet points; if you want an at-a-glance view of why these proposals are a bad idea, that's a good place to start.

In this first section, I look at the evidence to see whether it supports the proposal's assertions that a lot of children are looking at online porn, and that doing so causes them developmental harm. These claims pop up again and again, often accompanied by the same shoddy statistics and debunked studies; this isn't the first time we've needed to challenge them, and sadly I don't think it will be the last. My hope is that if we share resources, it will make it easier to marshal our arguments next time.

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, censorship, child safety, DCMS, Ofcom, politics, porn, R18 material, young people

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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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British fetish film-makers are organising against censorship

Posted at 22:35 on 28 Feb 2016 by Pandora Blake

Today thirty British fetish film-makers met to discuss UK porn censorship, particularly the news that at the start of 2016 video-on-demand regulator ATVOD was shut down and re-absorbed into its parent body, Ofcom. The occasion was the British Fetish Film Festival, a new event that aims to bring film-makers together and showcase the diversity and creativity of kinky erotica produced in the UK and abroad.

Led by femdom pornographer, artist and activist Itziar Bilbao Urrutia - who organises with Backlash, the UK non-profit organisation defending freedom of sexual expression - we shared knowledge around the changing landscape of porn censorship in the UK, and brainstormed strategies to resist attempts to close us down. As Itzi pointed out, “putting all of us out of business is not going to stop porn being available online.”

Under the ATVOD regime, many of us were targeted for censorship, and some of us have had our websites forced offline entirely. Some, such as myself, have appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD’s decision - as Itzi did, successfully, in the wake of ATVOD’s investigation into her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. While many appeals to Ofcom are still pending, that organisation has become the sole regulator of video on demand, and none of us knows how we will fare under the new regime.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, Backlash, British Fetish Film Festival, censorship, civil liberties, internet freedom, Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, Myles Jackman, Ofcom, porn, sexual freedom

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