back to article 'Extreme porn' law could criminalise millions

If you use the internet for any purpose that might be construed as other than respectable – be afraid. Be very afraid. Almost unreported, the UK Criminal Justice Bill is slowly wending its way toward becoming law. It includes a section (Clause 63) on "extreme pornographic images" that may, or may not, affect a very large …


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  1. Gilbert Wham

    Oh Goody!

    More Thoughtcrime legislation! Excellent.

  2. Ash


    Isn't 'Extreme' also covered by "Violent"? Don't we already have a law against that?

    They wouldn't dare make les'ing out illegal, would they?

    Say it ain't so!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Definition please

    Any danger of sparing a paragraph to explain or give the Bill's definition of 'extreme pornography'? Until then, I'll have to assume that the naked skydiving picture on my HD will put me in the clink.

    Halo Bill, 'cos I'm really a goody goody

  4. brandon
    Thumb Down

    No more good laws left to pass...

    This is whats keeping the average brit up at night? (no pun intended) So you must have solved all other societal problems then, and now you can concentrate on the real problem, what the `right` kind of porn is.

    I am glad I live in Canada, you'll have to pry my extreme porn from my cold dead (although wonderfully soft) hands.

    But seriously you brits are crazy.

    Mines the one with all the tissues in the pocket, no that ones the Baroness Millers, the one with the Vaseline in the pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sadly it excludes rated films

    otherwise that would be Michael Winner removed from history.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Sax and Violins on TV...

    I think people always get this backwards. Porn doesn't cause violence, but instead, people who have violent dispositions are more likely to like extreme porn. So:

    --Many peaceful people like porn==this does not cause them to do violent acts, but suggestible (weak minded) people seeing dehumanizing images constantly may become desensitized, and think that this is "normal behavior" The same goes for any 'adult' entertainment, whether it be booze, drugs, gambling, violent video games, fundamentalist religions, etc.

    --People who are already violent probably like extreme porn==the same angry (and often corrupted sexual) need that feeds violent urges, is perfectly suited to and finds expression in hardcore porn. Perhaps this 'outlet' may even give violent people some release (no pun intended) and actually reduce violence (but this is just my opinion)

    So perhaps the answer is that people that are stable adults should be free to do what they want in life, as long as it isn't hurting anyone, but those that have proven to be a hazard to others should be counseled, locked up if need be, but permitted to have all the porn they desire.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and so it comes to pass

    I suppose soon I'll have to turn myself over as a danger to society.

    What a bunch of ------- ----- I hate this country.

    Thought crime central.

  8. dervheid

    It's all so clear to me now Dave...

    THIS is why the various departments of are so reticent in investigating the BT/Phorm issue.

    Mass Internet Monitoring (and CENSORSHIP!).

    All carried out 'independantly' by a "ligitimate e-commerce business".

    How PHUCKING CONVENIENT would that be.

    Even Orwell would be impressed by the deviousness.

  9. Rande Knight
    Dead Vulture

    Vague laws

    How is anyone to know whether their porn collection is legal? Or is it like terrorism - call the police and let them make the judgement?

    To the PTB, please define 'extreme'.

    A list of medical terms will be fine.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nanny knows best

    What about the stoning of the woman in Iran where she was topless? Does that count? It was on many news sites?

    Is the problem there that she was stoned, that someone videod her being stoned or that someone is watching the video of her being stoned? Would it be OK, if her top hadn't ripped and her breasts stayed covered? What if it was still arousing to some people?

    Is this from Jacqui Smith of the Home Office by any chance? The Jacqui Smith that gave USA access to live feeds from British CCTV cameras, and DVLA database access and didn't tell parliament? The loyal Blairite? Nanny Jacqui?

  11. Iain
    Thumb Down


    These are links to the proposed statute and the explanatory notes.

    There are going to be a lot of people who may wish to engage in or view images of BDSM activity who will now be in serious danger of being imprisoned for up to 3 years.

    The act itself seems hypocritical if it's purpose is to prevent copycat violence (which is generally considered to be a minute problem anyway, see Bowling for Columbine) but still allows the very images it wants to prevent so long as they have been classified. Under the act possession of a copy of the particularly eye-watering scene in the new Casino Royal where Bond is tortured by whipping between the legs would be illegal and punishable by 3 years inside if it was in a pornographic context. What's to stop someone watching that film for sexual arousal and the deciding to go out and do the same thing to someone. Just because it isn't on the top shelf doesn't stop anyone getting sexual pleasure.

  12. Nomen Publicus

    Special two for one laws

    So, this government creates yet more law that it has no intention of enforcing. This will just be another tick-box charge that will be included should the coppers accidentally come across(!) someone with illegal porn. "OK lad, we've caught you selling nasty porn to kiddies. Have you a computer? Have you a modem? Right we've also got you for extreme porn."

    Why does our stupid government think that the internet so different that it needs special laws?

  13. Mike Crawshaw
    Paris Hilton

    But what does it MEAN?

    One person's "extreme" includes BDSM & gimping. To another, it would include homosexual. Bukkake? BBWs? Anything more explicit than "Emmanuelle"...?

    Do we have any actual definitions as to what is to be included in this classification?

    I will withold opinion on whether this is good or bad until I know what it affects.

    Paris, for what I should hope are rather obvious reasons!

  14. david g
    Black Helicopters


    Did I fall asleep and wake up in China ?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sax and Violins on TV...

    "So perhaps the answer is that people that are stable adults should be free to do what they want in life, as long as it isn't hurting anyone,"

    Don't be silly.

    however I think you fall for the same trap as the people promoting the law - liking extreme pornography doesn't necesarily mean you're any more violence inclined then anybody else in society. It just means you like to fap to something different.

    Much like liking gore movies, violent games, boxing, football, etc... doesn't mean that you're inclined to violence. It just means you like something different.

    Then there is being inclined to violence, and then there is being weak of will.

    O well... it's nice to see this once mighty land sink ever lower in the ranks of personal thought, freedom, expression and fantasy.

    Of course maybe this will mean a healthy marketing for extreme literature?

  16. Dennis

    They need to think again

    So the Act will criminalise the depiction of activity "which threatens a person’s life".

    Doesn't waving a knife around threaten someone's life? They are not actually hurt. Merely the threat.

    But a video of someone actually being raped seems to be okay. No threat to kill, just forceably restrained. No injury. And they are alive and human. No problem.

  17. Steve Kay

    Sub title no joke - you should be afraid

    Against the hideous vagaries of the Obscene Publications Act, now there's this.

    The Ministry of Justice turned to Catherine Itzin (a woman who has campaigned for years against pornography*) for its Rapid Evidence Assessment ("a tool for getting on top of the available research evidence on a policy issue, as comprehensively as possible, within the constraints of a given timetable") of the harm from "Extreme Porn":

    and unsurprisingly gets the assessment it, in effect, asked for...EP is bad.

    (Backgrounder - Itzin cited "sources" in her 1993 book that snuff films were not only in circulation, but available from video stores. This contrasts with the conclusion of all major agencies worldwide that no snuff films have ever been discovered.)

    There are serious methodological errors in the compilation of the REA:

    In other words, the assessment is inaccurate and unreliable; law and policy made upon its conclusions will be wrong.

    This section of the CJB is frighteningly vague; it leaves the ultimate assessment of "extreme" (and indeed "pornographic") in the hands of the prosecution. If it's passed into law, anyone who enjoys anything beyond a photographic version of the Joy of Sex needs to download some plausibly deniable crypto tools and get themselves a good passphrase.

  18. Slaine
    Paris Hilton

    freedom to do exactly what we tell you

    So it is official then. No matter how completely out of whack you are with society's norms, no matter how gullible or weak minded you are, no matter how unattainable or stupid your ideals be, regardless of how impossible or expensive it will be to police... a law can be passed to force every last free thinking individual in the country to do exactly as you tell them eh? Just lets all wait for this, I see it now, the great UK Mass Debate during the 2008 summer porn rallys, fuelled with eco-rage, bankrupt banks and unemployed teachers.

    Whatdowewant - gynocological accuracy

    Whendowewantit - well, about midnight would be nice.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Naked Skydiving

    I think that's "Xtreme" Porn. Which is of course completely different to "Extreme Porn"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, can I get an apology...

    ...from the Brits constantly bleating about the United States being a "police state"?

    Also, whether or not the porn is extreme has nothing to do with whether it should be illegal - I find it rather shocking that people are using the vagueness as an argument, rather than the fact that *images* would be *illegal to posess*. The instant you start banning images - which, essentially, are thoughts - you're on a road with no exits.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AC & Mike

    "Definition please"

    "But what does it MEAN?"

    I think that's the concern. It doesn't appear they've specified a definition, meaning it could be used as a "catch-all" for about anything more than soft porn.

    Paris, because even her porn could be become illegal.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you know

    I'm sure there was a time where before a law was really considered you first thought

    Who does this law protect based on the evidence available? Well nobody.

    Who does this law prosecute? A large number of otherwise innocent people.

    It's just another opportunistic law.

    It's pretty sickening really.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    This has nothing to do with pornography

    This has everything to do with creating breathing space for the authorities to bring criminal charges against people that they just don't like.

    The Government may have no intention of proactively policing this legislation, but it would come in mighty handy if you were to search someone's home under suspicion of, let's say, terrorism and in the absence of any real evidence stitch them up on having weird sexual tastes. Bring a microscope down far enough in to someon'es life and you're bound to find SOMETHING.

    The only people who need to fear this are those that up until now could be confident that they are honest, law abiding citizens who's only 'crime' is to like a bit of B&D, or who just happen to be curious about it.

    Look at RIPA, it was introduced to combat terrorism and is now used to spy on children (but it strangely doesn't apply to BT and Phorm).

    In Russia, there is no legislation against criticising Vladimir Putin but look at the number of publications that get shut down for 'financial irregularities, 'tax fraud' or 'copyright infringment'. Just add 'unusual sexual tastes' to that list.

    Mine's the one with the matching tinfoil hat.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last one out, switch off the lights

    > So the Act will criminalise the depiction of activity "which threatens a person’s life".

    I'm screwed, then.

    Watching Bakes 7 is, for me, an act of arousal (and not just Servalan...). And they *frequently* have all sorts of guns & other weapons around.

    So Blakes 7 is now Extreme Porn, and banned as a hazard to all subservient^Wright-thinking individuals :-(

  25. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Time is very short, please lobby the Lords NOW!

    Firstly, many thanks to El Reg for letting people know about these proposals for a "Dangerous Pictures Act".

    I, and many others, including members of Liberty, Feminists Against Censorship and the Spanner Trust have been lobbying against them since they were first introduced, because they are a) completely vague and ill-defined, being based on someone's subjective opinion of what an image appears to show (ie if it is "grossly offensive or disgusting" and if they think it "risks serious injury to a person's breasts, genitals or anus", even if the participants are consenting adults and the acts shown are entirely legal) and b) introduce Thought Crime into English Law because they are based on the idea that "if people don't see this stuff, they won't try to do it!"

    There is still time to lobby the House of Lords (the Government wants to force this Bill through by May 8th, so the odds are they'll guillotine the debate in the Commons meaning that MPs won't even get to discuss these proposals).

    Visit and scroll down for the thread "Just less than a month to go. Write to the Lords now." This thread contains a list (about the 8th post down) of all the Lords who have e-mail addresses. Also in that section you'll find a number of letters written by myself and others which have arguments you can use to base your letters on if you want.

    There are other arguments such as those in the above article and ones that can be found on

    The Lib Dems Lords are already onside, but we need to persuade the Cross Benchers, and Tories (if the Tories hadn't abstained, the proposals would have been voted out) and, indeed, the Labour Lords (who aren't as sheep-like as their MPs) that such a law has no place in this country (it belongs in places like China, Iran or North Korea!)

    You can find more details of which party (if any) a Lord is part of by visiting and there's also links there that will let you send messages via the House of Lords fax machine.

    Lord Hunt, for the Government said "I recognise that it would be anomalous for a person to be committing an offence by possessing an image of an act which he undertook perfectly lawfully. We intend to introduce at Third Reading a defence which addresses precisely that situation" but this seems to suggest it will cover only acts which the picture owner participated in such that any other images, even when featuring consenting adults, would still be illegal.

    Since we are probably not going to be able to get these draconian laws thrown out, the next best thing is for them to include a defence that provided a reasonable person would assume that *any* of the participants were consenting, then an image is not illegal.

    Please, people, lobby the Lords NOW! Be polite, be concise, be reasonable, but don't be a criminal for looking at "Dangerous Pictures!"

    PS Re Mycho's comment "Sadly it excludes rated films", well, yes, but only *as a whole*! If you take a clip from a BBFC and, again in someone else's subjective opinion, it is "extreme" and you did it "for sexual arousal" then you've just committed a crime!

  26. Rodney Cole


    According to the terms of reference from the Ministry of Justice to a 3 woman "Rapid evidence assessment" panel, EPM (extreme pornographic material) is defined as

    ..... 'actual scenes or realistic depictions of: explicit intercourse or oral sex with an animal, explicit sexual interference with a human corpse, explicit serious violence in a sexual context and explicit serious sexual violence'.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Naked skydiving...

    I'm actually going to look that one up out of curiousity.

    Maybe naked bungee jumping...

  28. Cameron Colley

    Fuck you New Labia!

    Castch-all laws intended to catch all -- all but their sheep are guilty.

    Mine's the blunt-knife-in-the-small-artery-in-the-cold-in-the-wods proof one.

    Fuck-it that's my last comment on here regarding the government. I just hope we get nuked by Kim Jong-Il soon, because this country is beyond repair.

  29. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    See this is what happens...

    We're in a horrible half-way house. Huge rafts of legislative power are handed over to the EU already, so the provincial government (for that is what it is), not wanting people to realise that it is effectively no longer the de-facto or even de-jure government of this country, makes lots of big noises in the few areas it can still control by pushing through more and wide-ranging new legislation in those tiny, tiny areas and micromanaging everything where it still has the power to legislate. Why else the obsession with targets, with increasingly meddling in what were once personal, private matters and so on? It's because that's all they have left, and to satisfy the ego, the delusion of influence, or to simply con people into believing that they are still relevant, the entire political class goes along with it, because to admit otherwise would make people realise that there's simply no point in the Westminster parliament any more.

    Laws like this are the result of all that. They criminalise what was once the domain of individual discretion, because that's pretty much all our political class can meddle with these days.

  30. John Arthur

    Extreme porn?

    Does that mean I have to scrub that video of Max Mosley off my hard drive?

    Mines the one with the swastikas on the lapels.

  31. Ross

    Dear George

    Dear George,

    I am writing to you as a helpless citizen oppressed by an unelected dictatorship. Please will you bring Western Democracy and tanks to my country. We have very little oil, but we can give you Northern Rock (it's everything we have).


  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK most violent in Europe, most restricted porn in Europe

    "by Professor Catherine Itzin, Lincoln University; Professor Ann Taket, London South Bank University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia; and Liz Kelly, London Metropolitan University."

    Take a look at the report evidence. Firstly it's written by 3 women, no male view, which is different from every other time these have been done, both male and female opinions have previously been sought...

    Then they ignore the reverse correlation, societies with more violent media and porn tend to have lower domestic violence, look at Japan, whereas more restricted societies like the UK tend to have more violence at home. UK is the most violent society in Europe BTW and now also the most people in prison in Europe.

    Then I search on these people's name and they've been chosen to fit the agenda.

    Ann Taket :

    'Tacklin Domestic Violence .. the role of heath care professionals'

    So they chose her not because she's an expert on porn, she isn't. She was chosen to claim a link to violence.

    Liz Kelly

    Liz Kelly is 'End Violence Against Women' campaigner, again chosen to make 'evidence' to back the bill rather than having any knowledge on the subject.

    Catherine Itzin:

    "Honorary Research Fellow in the Violence, Abuse and Gender Relations Research Unit"..

    You get the idea, Jacqui needed to put forward evidence, so she chose 3 women with opinions designed to back her claim. No men, because men would realize that watching S&M sex videos does make you more violent, getting 'off' makes you more relaxed. It sex starved young males that are violent. But then any man would know this which is why they were not asked.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    (Hard) Labour at it again !

    Good grief here we go again with an other labour half wit idea borrowed from King Canutes' (remove some letters) advisors. A government bereft of good ideas so it has to think up some really really stupid ones.

    Anyone know when the next Vogon constructor fleet is passing ?


    You humans no nothing about Extreme Porn (tm) its the number one show in the intergalactic viewing charts - you want to see what the Gbrownians did on last weeks show !

  35. ImaGnuber

    @David Wiernicki

    Hee-hee-hee! Love it!

    So glad my ancestors had the foresight to get off the island a couple of hundred years ago.

  36. Frederick Karno

    Payback Time.

    There is an old adage .........You get what you pay for.

    The Government it appears means to criminalise the whole country in one way or another .The publishers of law books must think all their Christmas's have come at once in the last 10 years its been one useless law after another,and heres another one.

    But if you've nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.......flap oink flap oink

    In the words of the great Jim Royal a**e

  37. Schultz

    @ Rande Knight / Vague laws

    "How is anyone to know whether their porn collection is legal?"

    Easy, ask your mother, she'll tell you.

  38. Jay

    so that means.... asian girls exchanging bodily fluids?.... interracial gang bangs?.... brasilian fart porn?....

    time to 'boot up' the old simulator....

  39. James67

    UK sex laws are just insane

    UK sex laws seem to be stuck in the middle of a game of tug-of-war between the liberals and the prudes. The last Sexual Offences Act - which was supposed to tidy up all the bizarre inconsistencies in the statute book that had built up over more than a century - descended into farce as the Act described, in pornographic detail, which parts of one person's body were allowed to come into which parts of another person's body.

    And the Act ended up introducing new inconsistencies of its own, such as it being legal to have sexual intercourse with a 16 or 17 year old, but possessing an image of such an act would get you on the Sex Offenders' Register as a child pornographer.

    Actually, thinking about it, this new bill appears to be expanding the whole "you can do it, but you mustn't see it being done" idea. Perhaps the person coming up with this nonsense went to one of those long-established private schools where it was OK to bugger the first year boys senseless, but if you were caught masturbating, you'd get a damned good thrashing from the housemaster.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IWF = Met Informant

    Be very sure that if you report anything to the IWF they will make sure that the MET know about you and you will get a visit.

  41. arran


    what about being involved in the... errr.... filming of such things?

    and can i know claim political asylum in holland because my life style choices are being repressed and made illegal by the British government?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    3rd Option

    There is a 3rd option. Massive civil unrest has always been a very effective way of catalyzing political change.

    Just saying.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    I can imagine a scenario whereby someone like 'Mary Whitehouse' is in charge of deeming what's extreme or not. This miserable old bag used to comlpain about anything on TV that slightly offended her moral values.

    Laws make criminals

  44. Hate2Register
    Paris Hilton


    If I watch two adults making love, presumably that is acceptable. But outside my window I see two-dogs-fücking: "Ooooh Fido, das ist schön. Bark in my ear, big boy..". That might land me in court.

    I like porn. It's a nice substitute for human company, which occasionally is not acceptable. Let's ban humans.

    Although criminalising Paris Hilton might be a step in the right direction.

  45. Matt

    @Steve Kay

    Am I right in thinking that you can be done for using encryption and not handing over the passphrase if requested by the roz?

  46. gareth

    @ steve kay

    but even the crypto tools won't make you safe as it is a criminal offence not to provide the police with the passphrase or encryption key

    looks like the best way is to build a pc with no harddrive, boot it off a knoppix disk or similar and stream the porn directly off pronographic youtube clones

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Definition please

    Anything that anyone other than you thinks is offensive.

    A bit like the obscene publications act, even the coppers that are arresting you have no idea if you've actually comitted a crime, merely that you *might* have.

    It's entirely subjective and should not be on the books.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Wiernicki

    Nah you yanks are way behind us on the formation of a thought police state

  49. JeffyPooh
    Paris Hilton

    I need examples...

    ...Lots of examples. What's just inside the law, and what's just outside the law. The government should provide these example on-line so that everyone can see them and understand the legal limit.

  50. Mr Bear
    Black Helicopters

    Political coup

    The labour party have realised that they are going to be booted out at the next election for being so crap, so they have made up this law to get most of the opposition MP's arrested and hold on to their power. Let's face it how many kinky MP's are actually out there.

    The helicopter? Because it's being flown by Ceiling Cat.


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