Iceland Poised to Block Online Porn

Feb 13, 2013 7:15 AM PST

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland is on the verge of becoming the first Western democracy to block online porn.

Sparked by concerns over the damaging effects of adult material on women and children, the proposed censorship would broaden Iceland’s laws that already ban the printing and distribution or porn.

The proposal would adopt Internet filtering and could soon become law despite a general election in April.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, who is drafting legislation to block access to porn on computers, games consoles and smartphones, is spearheading the move.

"We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime," Jonasson said.

The authorities are reportedly considering blocking IP addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view porn.

"There is a strong consensus building in Iceland. We have so many experts from educationalists to the police and those who work with children behind this, that this has become much broader than party politics," Halla Gunnarsdottir, a political adviser to Jonasson told the Daily Mail.

"At the moment, 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."

This is not Iceland’s first attempt to stem adult entertainment. Two years ago, female prime minister Johanna Siguroardottir banned all strip clubs claiming they violated performer’s civil rights and are harmful to society.

"Iceland is taking a very progressive approach that no other democratic country has tried," said Professor Gail Dines, an expert on porn who spoke at a recent conference at Reykjavik University. "It is looking a pornography from a new position — from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights."

And just last September, two of the country’s largest ISPs — Vodafone and Siminn — considered blocking access to adult material under the guise of keeping users safe from computer viruses and malware that the services claim run rampant on porn and gambling sites.

Iceland’s proposed ban mirrors China’s agressive efforts to stop access to online porn. A similar initiative by conservatives in Great Britain was rejected in late 2012 in favor of parental controls.

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