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Iceland porn ban proposal sparks free speech debate

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
Iceland porn ban proposal sparks free speech debate
Reknown pornographic publisher of "Screw Magazine" Al Goldstein, who went from multimillonaire to homeless after his empire collapsed, is making a comeback at the age of 69 after being named on April 12, 2005 as national marketing director for XonDemand a internet video on demand porn web site. (UPI Photo/file/Ezio Petersen) | License Photo

Although an online porn ban is both amusing and improbable, opponents of Iceland's proposed effort to block violent imagery are fighting back, claiming the measure raises censorship concerns.

“This kind of thing does not work," said Smari McCarthy of the International Modern Media Institute. "It is technically impossible to do in a way that has the intended effect.

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"And it has negative side effects--everything from slowing down the Internet to blocking content that is not meant to be blocked to just generally opening up a whole can of worms regarding human rights issues, access to information and freedom of expression.”

Proponents of the law say it will be narrow enough that it won't cause problems or step on citizens' freedoms.

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"We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech," said Halla Gunnardottir, a political adviser to Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson, who proposed the measure.

Paper porn has been banned in Iceland for years, and the new proposal is meant to update the law for the Internet age.

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"“We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence," Gunnardottir said. "This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech.”

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The Atlantic Wire points out that, even if the law were to be passed, it might be impossible to enforce.

A block on Icelandic credit cards could be easily circumvented by free and illegal porn sites, and a national filter would be ineffective or devastatingly suppressive.

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