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Briefing the House of Lords on age verification

Posted at 12:18 on 3 Mar 2017 by Pandora Blake

Briefing on the age verification section of the Digital Economy Bill - by Pandora Blake for Backlash

Along with the statement about the Women's March, one of my first actions in my new role as spokesperson for Backlash was to write a briefing about section 3 the Digital Economy Bill, and send it out to 151 members of the Lords, in advance of the Bill going to Committee stage. We targeted the briefing to those members sitting on relevant committees, those who had contributed to the second debate on the Bill, and Liberal Democrats whom we might hope would be sympathetic to issues of net freedom, privacy and civil liberties.

It was no easy task to condense my research and findings on the potential harms of this bill into a short, easily digestible format. To make it more likely that the briefing would be read, I summarised the main arguments in a single cover page, and then fleshed out the three sections - privacy, freedom of expression and lack of supporting evidence - in more detail over three subsequent pages. If you're looking for a succinct introduction to the problems with the age verification policy, I think it's a reasonable start.

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Tags: activism, age verification, Backlash, Digital Economy Bill, kink activism, lobbying

 

Organising with Backlash

Posted at 10:00 on 1 Mar 2017 by Pandora Blake

I had a great start to 2017 when I became a member of Backlash's management team in the role of co-spokesperson alongside Itziar Bilbao Urrutia. Backlash is the UK organisation that defends freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults in UK by providing legal, academic and campaigning advice, and they are keen to publically lend their support to the campaign for sex worker's rights and the full decriminalisation of sex work. Fittingly my first act as co-spokesperson was to release a statement about the Women's March in response to some see-sawing on the Women's March Washington policy statement last week  around sex worker solidarity. 

Our laws around porn, obscenity, BDSM and sexual expression massively affect sex workers. Obscenity law is a sex worker's rights issue, and a labour rights issue, as well as affecting all our sexual liberties. I'm glad that Backlash are willing to stand up in solidarity with all sex workers, and I'm proud to be organising with them to defend our rights and freedoms.

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Tags: age verification, backlash, Digital Economy Bill, kink activism, sex work

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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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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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Caned for charity

Posted at 20:05 on 22 Feb 2015 by Pandora Blake

I'm sitting on a sore bottom to type this on the train home from visiting Hywel Phillips and Ariel Anderssen. We've just filmed mine and Ariel's sponsored canings for Backlash UK, as part of our 10-a-stroke fundraiser which raised 3836 to help Backlash fight the new UK porn laws.

Nimue Allen was the first to take her caning, and she tweeted photos of her welted bottom after 50 cold cane strokes on Friday... which just served to make me more nervous. Thanks to the generosity of our funders (said through gritted teeth!) I was due 50 strokes and Ariel 25 strokes. I kept on waking up last night and was had to give myself a stern talking-to to stop myself getting all strung out with nerves.

Tags: Amelia Jane Rutherford, atvod, Backlash, cane, censorship, cold caning, D, hard caning, Hwyel Phillips, Kink activism, Photos, Politics

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We did it!

Posted at 15:44 on 13 Feb 2015 by Pandora Blake

I'm still reeling from the news. Thanks to our 105 generous funders, we raised a whopping 3836 for Backlash, and the money was transferred to their account yesterday. I met with David last week and he tells me the cash will be invaluable for funding legal support for producers affected by the UK porn legislation (which might well include yours truly).

I want to extend a personal thank you to each and every person who supported our sponsored caning campaign - whether by donating, sharing the link or writing a newspaper article. I had no idea when I launched this campaign  that it would turn into such a wild success, and it's heartening to learn how many people in the UK and worldwide support the stand we're taking against this unjust attempt to censor our freedom of expression.

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Tags: Adele Haze, Alex Reynolds, Amelia Jane Rutherford, atvod, AVMS, Backlash, cane, censorship, D, Extreme porn legislation, Hwyel Phillips, Kink activism, Michael Stamp, Nimue Allen, Performers and producers, Politics, Rosie, sponsored caning, Vincent Brennan, Zoe Page

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Charity caning campaign update

Posted at 14:41 on 31 Jan 2015 by Pandora Blake

Wow, what a week it's been! Thanks to you, the kinky Indiegogo campaign I launched with Nimue Allen has raised more than five times our original funding target to help fight UK porn censorship - and there's still 18 hours left.

The fundraiser is running until midnight tonight PST (that's 8am on Sunday for us Brits), so there's still time to donate. Every penny raised will be donated to Backlash to help fight the UK's regressive new porn laws. Please do contribute if you can!

2000 stretch goal reached!

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Tags: Alex Reynolds, Amelia Jane Rutherford, atvod, AVMS, Backlash, Extreme porn legislation, Fairtrade porn, fundraiser, Hwyel Phillips, in the news, Kink activism, media, Michael Stamp, Nimue Allen, Paul Kennedy, Performers and producers, Photos, Politics, Zoe Page

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Amelia Jane Rutherford joins our sponsored caning

Posted at 01:19 on 28 Jan 2015 by Pandora Blake

Our sponsored caning fundraiser to fight against UK porn censorship has now raised 1400 - thank you so much to all who have donated so far! But we aren't stopping there. All proceeds raised (and I mean literally all - we aren't keeping a penny) will go to Backlash, who campaign against laws that restrict sexual freedom - and maintain a legal fund to help defend those prosecuted under such laws.

No UK fetish porn producer can afford an expensive court battle. We are all small independent businesses operated by solo kinksters or couples, working from home and barely making a living after the costs of running a website. Any producers affected by these regulations will desperately need Backlash's support - and it's up to us, the kinky community, to help ensure Backlash have the resources they need.

Encouraged by the amazing support we've received so far, we are continuing to promote the campaign and are adding new stretch goals. Every pound will help in the battle against the UK's draconian new censorship of consensual kinky porn.

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Tags: Amelia Jane Rutherford, ATVOD, AVMS, Backlash, Bars and Stripes, censorship, extreme porn legislation, Hywel Phillips, kink activism, Michael Stamp, Nimue Allen, performers and producers, politics, porn protest, Restrained Elegance, Rosie Bottomley, sites and studios, Zoe Page

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Video blog about UK porn censorship

Posted at 11:23 on 20 Jan 2015 by Pandora Blake

I finally got round to making a video blog about the new UK porn censorship laws. The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations (AVMS) 2014 impose dramatic restrictions on the sort of online porn that can be published in the UK, disproportionately targeting fetish, queer and feminist porn with no reference to whether the content was ethically and consensually produced. These laws criminalise me and my site Dreams of Spanking, and put me and other independent UK porn producers in a very precarious position. If you want to know more detail about the laws, exactly what is restricted, and how they affect me, watch this.

I recorded this at 1am a week ago without notes, because I've talked about this damn issue so much in the last six weeks I no longer need a cribsheet. As a result it's a little longer than I wanted - I might make some bullet points and attempt a 5 minute version at some point. I sent it to Backlash UK before posting to check I wasn't saying anything glaringly inaccurate, and they replied with a few clarifications as follows:

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Tags: atvod, AVMS, Backlash, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, Extreme porn legislation, Kink activism, Ms Tytania, Nimue Allen, Performers and producers, Politics, Sites and studios, Urban Chick Supremacy Cell, video blog

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Help me fight the new UK porn laws

Posted at 23:14 on 18 Jan 2015 by Pandora Blake

When there's important stuff happening, there's usually not much time to write about it - and that's how things have been the last few weeks.

In December, what I was mostly writing about was the new UK porn laws that mean that I, along with countless other independent fetish and feminist porn producers in the UK, am now a criminal. There was a protest and a bunch of media coverage. I talked about the new laws on Channel 4 News. The petition collected a few thousand names, and then the signatures stopped coming in (If you haven't signed it yet, please do). Christmas happened. And now it's 2015, and I'm still a criminal, these regulations are still in place, they still haven't been debated in Parliament or been subject to any democratic scrutiny by elected officials. Many of my colleagues have signed their businesses over to international producers, and I have no idea whether that will be enough to save them. I'm still producing exactly the same material I always have, and the Sword of Damocles is still hanging over my head.

It's a new year, and now the best chance for me and every other producer affected by this is to join forces and support Backlash, the campaign group who are lobbying against these regulations - as well as defending freedom of sexual expression on many other fronts. The best way to support them, if you can, is by donating hard cash. They explain on their website:

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Tags: atvod, AVMS, Backlash, censorship, Extreme porn legislation, Kink activism, Nimue Allen, Photos, Politics

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