Iceland, a famously web-savvy country, could become the first Western democracy to instate a national ban on internet porn. The nation’s interior minister is working on new legislation that would make it impossible for citizens to access porn on the Web, and Icelanders are understandably outraged. 

Proponents of the legislation say that their aim is to protect the children of Iceland. They assert that what they take issue with is not necessarily sexual content, but violence. “[The legislation] is anti-violence because young children are seeing porn and acting it out,” said Halla Gunnarsdóttir, advisor to interior minister Ogmundur Jonasson. “That is where we draw the line. This material is blurring the boundaries for young people about what is right and wrong." 

A similar argument was used two years ago, when the Icelandic parliament banned strip clubs in the country. Lawmakers asserted that strip clubs violate the civil rights of those who work in them, and decided to do away with them entirely, rather than consider solutions that would make working conditions in the clubs more safe and livable. 

Technically speaking, print porn has been banned in Iceland for decades. But because the term has never been defined, enforcing the ban has been impossible. Porn magazines and videos can still be found in the country, because no one can definitively say what is considered porn and what isn’t.

The new legislation would define pornography as sexual content that is somehow violent or degrading. Methods for banning such material might include national internet filters or a freeze on Icelandic credit cards that would make it impossible to purchase porn. While the policing of the internet for things like child porn is nothing new, the extent of the proposed ban in Iceland has caused an uproar among citizens. 

"This kind of thing does not work. It is technically impossible to do in a way that has the intended effect," said free-speech advocate Smari McCarthy. "And it has negative side effects—everything from slowing down the Internet to blocking content that is not meant to be blocked to just generally opening up a whole can of worms regarding human rights issues, access to information and freedom of expression."

Any kind of censorship is immediately alarming to those in favor of internet freedom. Icelanders are particularly concerned about the fallout of this potential legislation because of how important the internet has become to the country's economy. After its banking system collapsed in 2008, Iceland was able to rebuild its economy by becoming one of the most connected and technologically innovative countries in the world. The proposed porn ban could have far-reaching consequences on Iceland’s newly-rebuilt economy. 

Those in favor of the ban are hoping that Iceland will be a pioneer in the fight against internet porn, but many others in the liberal country are baffled by the proposition. "People just have to make themselves a bit more knowledgeable about what their kids are up to, and face reality," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, an online freedom advocate. And while that does seem like the most rational and effective idea, debates that involve sex and sexuality are seldom governed by reason alone. 

 

Source: The Big Story, Deseret News 

Photo via Deseret News

 

 

Tagged in: Porn, legislation, internet, iceland, ban   

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