This week Iceland announced radical proposals which could see it become the first Western democracy to block all internet pornography.
A law forbidding the printing and distribution of pornography is already in force in Iceland but, presently, it doesn’t cover on-line material.
Following a widespread investigation into the effects of pornography, which included evidence from teachers, law enforcers and organisations working with abused children, a strong cross-party consensus is building that violent pornography is damaging and must be controlled.
Iceland’s investigation concluded that the extremely violent nature of much online pornography was increasing the intensity of sex attacks. It also found that children exposed to violent porn showed similar signs of trauma to those who have been physically abused.
A number of methods to achieve a ban are under consideration including blocking access to pornographic websites and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography.
An Icelandic government spokesperson said “we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this, but surely, if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet.” She continued “it is no longer acceptable to keep blaming parents for the fact that children see graphic sexual content. Parents are not the only ones responsible for protecting our young people. They cannot be with their children all the time and the porn industry actively tries to seek children out”.
Iceland’s approach has been called ‘progressive’; looking at pornography from the perspective of the harm it does to women and to children who are having their sexuality hijacked at a young age by brutal sexual imagery.
The measures for which we have been campaigning in the UK would see adult material blocked as a default although those wishing to access such material would be able to opt-in to do so. The proposals being discussed in Iceland go much further and we await the outcome with interest.
In Iceland tackling the menace of internet pornography has become a cross-party issue. We are hopeful that a similar political consensus will emerge in the UK. Last week Labour frontbencher, Diana Abbott, spoke of our ‘increasingly pornified’ culture and David Cameron has said he finds the fact that children are able to access such material ‘utterly appalling’.