Yeah, I know, everyone gives a hat-tip to Martin Niemoller at times like this, but his point remains valid whatever the subject matter. If you think that an alarming, poorly-formatted proposal for a new law is acceptable if it’s only going to suppress or inconvenience a bunch of weirdos then you are making a big mistake.
There are many, many problems with the age-verification proposals in the Digital Economy Bill, currently being debated by Parliament, and today I went to show some solidarity at the Backlash Kink Olympixxx protest, being staged at Westminster and organised by Pandora Blake and Myles Jackman. Pandora has posted in more detail on why this is such a scary clusterfuck of a bill and Myles has also explained the risks it poses.
This demo was predominantly playful and loads of fun to take part in, featuring Fisting Volleyball and Squirting Wars, but the speeches were inspiring, important, serious stuff from Index on Censorship and Justin Hancock, among several others.
The most worrying and wholly unacceptable factors of this Bill are, firstly, what appears to be a total lack of care (combined with the usual Government ignorance of how computer communications actually work) about the security of personal data. Here’s a little personal story that some of you may already know: last summer I got into a spat with a troll, who took exception to my laughing at its bullying behaviour and therefore attempted to mount a swatting attack: an armed police response unit was sent after me. Only, because I use my professional name rather than the one that’s on my birth certificate, the police were sent to the wrong house…(No one was hurt in this incident). If my proper personal details had been hacked, then it might have been a harrowing experience rather than something to giggle over in the pub.
The other issue is the way this law, if passed, will impact on sexual minorities, sex education, sex advice sites and support for LGBTQ young people. This is likely to restrict available ‘porn’ to the stuff put out by the largest, most mainstream companies, whose material is generally, well, not what you would call progressive or inclusive. It was noted a couple of years ago, when the list of ‘banned activities in porn’ came out, that the depiction of things like female ejaculation and face-sitting were prohibited while footage of women gagging on dicks was not. So, basically, representing female agency and female enjoyment in porn was to be perceived as far more dangerous, disgusting and unacceptable than stuff which appeals to heterosexual men.
Whatever your personal sexual preferences are, if you look at any sex blogs, search for advice on how to have better, safer sex or support for a sensitive personal issue, ‘age verification’ will come and bite you.
The demo is over and done with now, but you can still support the campaign by signing the petition.
I’m glad I went along, even though I was a little tiny bit twitchy about the neighbours and the official people in my mundane life spotting me in the pictures, so kind of opted for a bit of a disguise. We get the right to choose what we share and what we keep to ourselves when we use social media or strike up a conversation with a stranger or a new work colleague, or the pizza delivery person, and our privacy and our freedom matter.
Particularly when we have a Government in power that has repeatedly demonstrated how very few fucks it gives for the safety, privacy and other human rights of the vast majority of the people who live here.