It was a with a wry smile I read the transcript of David Cameron’s speech today. History is repeating itself.
With the news that the Government is aiming to censor the internet it’s worth the Video Nasties Podcast taking a little look at what’s happening and drawing a few parallels between today’s announcement and what happened 30 years ago.
David Cameron’s speech can be split into three aspects;
One) Adding filters that mean grown-ups will have to opt-in for adult content;
Two) Stricter laws on extreme pornography with additional pressure on ISPs to filter child sex abuse images;
Three) right at the end of his speech, the PM said: “Today, I can announce we will be legislating so that videos streams online in the UK are subject to the same rules as those sold in shops.”
How number three is going to work considering you can currently stream Love Camp 7 on YouTube, we’ll have to wait and see, but it seems that the conditions are perfect for stricter censorship in the UK.
When the video nasties scare happened in the early 80s it was with a Tory government in the backdrop of economic uncertainty. The Daily Mail had started a campaign to “ban the sadist videos”. A mirror of what is happening now.
In the case of the nasties I Spit On Your Grave was blamed for a double rape. Now internet images of child abuse and a clip from The Last House On The Left remake is mentioned in the case of Mark Bridger ‘s murder of a child.
Enter the politicians to take up the cause. In the 80s there was Graham Bright MP and his private Member’s Bill which would have withered on the vine unless Thatcher had gotten involved. Now we have Claire Perry MP to let us all know exactly how much filtering will work and pressuring the ISPs to make sure they comply.
Of course there is also some dubious statistics as well. In the 80s there was the Parliamentary Video Enquiry which alleged 40% of children had seen a video nasty, a figure questioned at the time. Now we’ve got questions about a recent Parliamentary report that revealed “shocking statistics that four out of five 16-year-olds regularly view pornography, and one in three ten-year-olds have admitted to seeing illicit images online.” according to Closer magazine.
Once again censorship is being introduced, adults are being treated like children, in protection of the young ‘uns.
It isn’t clear how these proposals, in particular the tighter laws on streaming video, will play out. It’s difficult to avoid the simple truth that teenagers are exceptionally able in finding the illicit thrills they want to enjoy. Also, there appears to be a naivety on the Government’s part over what is possible online. They seem to be using ideas that nobody would disagree with, the removal of child abuse images, to justify wider censorship. That said, much like the laws that were brought in after the video nasties scare, heavy censorship can appear to be for the benefit for all, but is frequently there to hide sins of others.