August 31, 2005

Brits plan Internet porn ban. Downloading violent images could mean prison.

LONDON -- Ever since Jane Longhurst was killed two years ago by a man obsessed with violent Internet pornography, her family has campaigned for the British government to outlaw the viewing of extreme sexual material on the web.

Yesterday the government agreed, announcing plans -- the first, it said, by any Western country -- to ban the downloading and possession of violent sexual images.

Police and anti-porn campaigners welcomed the proposal but free-speech groups called it censorship, saying there was no proven link between violent imagery and violent behaviour.

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said the government felt a duty to prevent cases such as the murder of Longhurst, 31, a teacher strangled by a friend who was obsessed with violent pornography he found on the Internet.

"This is material which is extremely offensive to the vast majority of people, and it should have no place in our society," Goggins said.

The government's proposals would make it an offence to possess "extreme pornographic material which is graphic and sexually explicit and which contains actual scenes or realistic depictions of serious violence, bestiality or necrophilia."

Viewing such material would constitute possession, although the government said it did not plan to prosecute people who accidentally stumbled across the images.

Such legislation would be a first for any western country, the home office said. Those convicted would face up to three years in prison.

- AP

Rose Anne Dyson, Ed.D.
Chair: C-CAVE and the Media Working Group - Science for Peace (University of Toronto)
Editor- The Learning Edge
Author of MIND ABUSE: Media Violence In An Information Age
Co-author of MEDIA, SEX, VIOLENCE and DRUGS in the GLOBAL VILLAGE and Terrorism, Globalization & Mass Communication