Iceland’s porn ban effort draws fire from abroad

Military staff ‘have penchant for porn’Reykjavik’s proposition to ban internet pornography in Iceland has drawn fire from international anti-censorship campaigners. Last month saw the country’s lawmakers introduce legislation that would extend the island-nation’s longstanding ban on printed porn to the web. Officials said the move is intended to protect children from being exposed to sexually violent content.

Now, the International Modern Media Institute in Reykjavik – which is chaired by WikiLeaks activist and Icelandic MP, Birgitta Jónsdóttir – has gathered support from academic and political figureheads from more than a dozen countries who agree that such a ban is not in line with the fundamental necessities of a free society. The group said that the effort would require technology similar to what is used to block web content in North Korea and China.

The organisation said in an open letter sent to the Icelandic government last week, “Everything must be examined automatically by unsupervised machines which make the final decision on whether to allow the content to continue or not. This level of government surveillance directly conflicts with the idea of a free society,” The Guardian reports.

It added, “The internet is not the source of violence, it is merely a medium by which violence is made apparent. Iceland has positioned itself as a model democratic state in global context when dealing with freedom of the press, the open process of drafting a new constitution and open review of information regulation. Therefore, we implore you to reject censorship as a viable option and seek more effective means of improving society, both in Iceland and abroad.”

Meanwhile, officials in Reykjavik continue to defend the effort. An advisor from the office of interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson, who has championed the ban, told the media in an interview last month, “what is under discussion is the welfare of our children and their rights to grow and develop in a non-violent environment” and said that the move is “not anti-sex, but anti-violence.”

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