Why the British Porn-Pass Law is Stupid – And Why Mi5 Should Be Exempt from Privacy Laws

Sometimes I wake up, read headlines and think I have woken up in an alternate reality or that the headline I am reading is a joke.

In today’s society, it seems that most of the headlines are jokes and the punchlines are on us. I am sure I will post plenty more political and social commentary in the future, but for now I want to talk about two things that are on my radar at the moment.

UK Introducing a Porn-Pass

Okay, so this is perhaps a tad hyperbole, but in short, the UK government has decided that purveyors of internet porn aren’t doing enough to verify the ages of people visiting their sites.

Sound reasoning so far and surely they are now having a meeting within the industry as well as drawing on other user verification channels to come up with a more robust and practical solution that is fair for all involved. Wrong. Nope, we get a kneejerk reaction of banning all porn viewing online unless people submit credit card details or obtain a porn pass for a fee from selected retailers.

This Is Dumb Because…

Before I get into the exact reasons why this law is dumb, I want to state how disapproving I am of people making policies about technology that they clearly can’t fathom. It reminds me of the perplexingly awful questions the US Senate put to Mark Zuckerberg when they called him to testify (video at bottom of this page).

Anyway, reasons why this is dumb;

  • Anyone with an iota of internet savvy will know that you can bypass a location specific block by using a proxy server. (For non tech people, it is a really straightforward way of tricking a porn site into thinking you’re viewing it from overseas instead of the UK.)

Now, taking the obvious workaround out of the equation, lets look at it from the perspective of this is an airtight measure and then look at the outcomes.

  • If people don’t want to get a porn-pass or are unable to (because we all know that underage (under 18) people look at porn) then they will seek out porn on parts of the internet that the government can’t censor, like the dark web. At this point in time I am sure there are people that are aware of the dark web but haven’t been on there, I can tell you categorically now that the one place you do not want to be inadvertently directed underage people to is the dark web. There are parasitic insidious and vile predators that will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of this. FOR THIS REASON ALONE, SOMEONE WITH COMMON SENSE AND POWER SHOULD INTERVENE AND STOP THIS LAW.
  • By paying for it, people are relinquishing data to goodness knows who that they are watching porn. While I am sure most have no shame in that fact, it is hardly the pastime for those to want to be stand up and counted.
  • Teenage Pregnancy will Rise. Yep, pretty obvious and this is an unknown quantity granted, but there is going to be a rise in teenage pregnancy. There just is.
  • Potentially there could be a rise in Sex Crime. I can’t categorically say there will be, but I suspect that sex crime figures will increase after the law comes into effect.

This move is either a cynical move to tax the internet porn industry or it is a completely misjudged piece of legislation or it is both. Without doubt, it should not be made a law and even more troubling for me is that I live in a time where this is even a thing.

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Mi5 and Mi6 In Trouble for Failing Privacy Laws

We move from one blanket policy to gain swathes of data and move to a policy where having that data is bad.

This is the legacy of the EU. Leave or Remain, whatever you are, the one thing the EU has done extremely well is create confusing legislation. So, while we live in an age where businesses function by processing data, governments rely on the data they collect and warfare is becoming increasingly tech based, the EU decided that little old me and you matter and we have rights too!

Yay for the EU. Because sweeping reforms bought in to protect people’s data and the way it is processed is really top stuff – except when you hold intelligence services to the same standard.

Intelligence Services Need to Operate Outside of the Law

Personally, I don’t get it at all, the intelligence services sole objective is to gather intelligence in order to protect our state. But now the EU has bought in a law that expects Mi5 and Mi6 to handle and process said data in a stringent and transparent way.

Fuck off Brussels, I love your privacy laws but I don’t care if Mi5 has me under 24/7 surveillance and all my tech bugged. Hell, I don’t care if they keep that data for longer than the permitted time.  It would of course be completely useless for Mi5 to do so except for maybe a laugh at some of the weird things I search and read about, but the point is I have nothing to hide from Mi5 or Mi6.

I would rather they had complete surveillance in place to prevent terrorist attacks or prevent foreign powers from assassinating people on British soil. I would rather they had all the information they could possibly need in order to form the backbone of a great sovereign state.

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Instead, heads of Mi5 and Mi6 are being treated as though they are running the police force or a major online business. At what point did the secret service become accountable to anyone? Half the time my understanding was they weren’t accountable to the government even. Now they are dragged before courts and tribunals like naught schoolboys before a headmaster.

I am a huge advocate of Mi5 and Mi6 operating as they see appropriate. I really cannot see the problem with them gathering as much private info as they want and keeping it for as long as they want.

Of course; the “what ifs” (people who will oppose this viewpoint) will say what if there is a leak. Well if there is, first Mi5 and Mi6 have bigger things to worry about if their security has been compromised and secondly, aside from that, so what… I might find out that Mrs Green down the road likes balloon porn. In the larger context of what vital information that is gathered and stored is used for and to prevent, it all seems trivial.

That is my June thoughts about two legal changes in the UK that I describe as petty on one end of the scale and downright dangerous on the other. Rant over. Logan out.

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