Iceland’s bid to ban web porn
Mail Online 13 Feb 2013
Iceland could become the first Western democracy to block all internet porn under radical new proposals. Fears about the damaging effects on children have led the government to work on legal measures to try and stop the flood of graphic sexual material reaching the island’s shores. Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson has set up working parties to find the best ways to stem the tide of online images and videos being accessed by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones. Methods under consideration include blocking porn IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access x-rated sites. A law forbidding the printing and distribution of porn has long been in place in the Nordic nation – but it has yet to be updated to cover the internet. Two years ago, the Icelandic Parliament – led by female prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir – successfully banned all strip clubs on the grounds that they violated the civil rights of the women who worked there and were harmful to society. This argument – that porn violates the rights of both women who appear in it and children who are exposed to it – is the cornerstone of the new proposals under discussion.
Alarm over the harmful effects of internet sex were raised in Iceland in 2010 when the Government launched a wide-ranging consultation process on how rape cases are handles in the justice system. The investigation was followed by a further consultation on porn, which included teachers, law enforcers and organisations working with abused children. It concluded that the extremely violent nature of the material now freely available on the web was increasing the intensity of sex attacks. It also found that children exposed to violent pornography at an early age were showing the similar signs of trauma as youngsters who had been actually abused. These included becoming increasingly isolated and playing out what they had seen on the internet on younger family members or other children.