New regulations that came into force this week have banned a comprehensive list of sexual acts from appearing in films produced and distributed by British companies, in a move that has introduced an “arbitrary” sense of morality into British pornography.
The move, which has been introduced to “safeguard children”, but does nothing to protect them from freely available adult material made abroad and distributed online, has extended the rules that govern what can be shown in DVDs sold in high-street stores to online content.
The rules, which are set down as secondary legislation by government body the Office of Communications have banned a number of acts from the fairly pedestrian, to the unusual. The Independent reports a list of acts that were legal but are now banned, which includes:
- Aggressive whipping
- Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
- Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of consent)
- Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)
- Female ejaculation
Up until now, these acts could be depicted in British-made films, and shown or sold online through video-on-demand services, however they were prohibited in films sold in shops. The restrictions, which are among the strictest in Europe, will likely hit Britain’s “cottage-industry” in specialist porn, which has until now cornered a niche in the market.
Guy Masterleigh, the head of the Tawsingham fetish group, and a long-standing publisher of erotic material, told Breitbart London: “Britain leads the world in fetish club culture, has a diverse range of classy, quirky low-budget porn producers, challenging the dreary and exploitative mainstream porn from the United States and Europe.
“Arbitrary new regulations threaten to stifle what could be a huge earner for the country and great resource to balance the nasty stereotypes.”
Some have expressed concern that the obvious loophole in the law, that all regardless of age or tastes will still be able to access unlimited, free, extreme pornography from websites hosted abroad, is a deliberate ploy. If the loophole is ridiculed, that may give political impetus to close it, by banning undesirable foreign websites in a way that would have been unthinkable otherwise.
Myles Jackman, legal adviser to freedom of expression group Backlash said: “Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die. If this assault on liberty is allowed to go unchallenged, other freedoms will fall as a consequence… This declaration of State censorship will affect millions of consenting adults who choose to view British pornography.
“It will impose an unnecessary trade barrier, which has already caused independent UK producers to shut down and result in a significant loss of revenue to the Treasury. It is practically unworkable as it can be circumvented by proxy servers. It has implications for all forms of freedom of expression on the internet.
“Of particular concern in terms of loss of freedom is the underlying intent to allow undesirable foreign websites to be blocked under UK ISPs’ filtering systems. This has serious implications for freedom of information. The fight back must start here.”
Although the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the new rules may hit some small British businesses, it said the new regulations were required.
“Restricting access to R18 material may lead to businesses moving outside of UK’s jurisdiction in order to avoid regulation,” it said. “Nevertheless, there is public value in ensuring that there is consistency for regulation across platforms so that UK based VOD firms are compliant with the UK’s views on harmful content.”