back to article Reg readers in the dark over extreme porn

A Register reader has been left baffled by the reaction of her local police force when they were asked what exactly is likely to constitute an actionable image when the extreme porn laws come into force in January. Although the Ministry of Justice has issued its own guidelines the message has yet to filter down to local forces …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Excuse me?

    "The IWF can determine whether or not that website is hosted in the UK, and whether or not it is potentially showing material in breach of UK legislation."

    Look we know that is complete shite. The IWF have shown themselves, over the wikipedia mess, to be an unaccountable bunch of un-elected, un controlled Neo-Puritans who will apparently black list anything that might possibly be illegal, even if its legal to go any buy the image in HMV.

  2. AC
    Thumb Down

    if that pic

    falls foul of the guidlines then we are all doomed.

    I was expecting an awesome pic that I was going to say required a NSFW tag but that clearly doesn't.

    I think I am going to write to my local pigs too now and fire out some pictures just for the lulz.

    Bet they'd be just as useless.

  3. alphaxion


    how long before the various chans and their clones are blocked by british ISP's under this law then?

    And the claims of "you won't be able to censor the net, someone else will just post it" will only fuel plans for a whitelist style net access in this country because "there is no other way of policing the net".

    Just you watch.

  4. Carl

    Civil Service Ducks Responsibility - Film at 11...

    So, not only is Sussex Police defering to the IWF, but the bloody Ministry of Justice has now granted a non-elected, non-governmental, self-appointed body the purview of interpreting the law...

  5. Lyndon Hills
    Thumb Down

    Round and Round

    In the discussion over the Scorpions album cover, the IWF spokesperson said they consulted the police for advice. Here we have the police suggesting the reader contact the IWF.

    Since no-one else seems to know, i vote that we all send our dodgy images to the Ministry of Justice, where that nice Mr Straw can check them personally.

  6. caffeine addict

    A title is required

    Any chance you can tell us what that picture she linked was...?

  7. abigsmurf


    It's scary how much power the IWF suddenly has. They seem to have little oversight yet they have insane amounts of control over the UK's access to the web. Now it seems they are the ones who decide if you should be prosecuted or not. Shouldn't that be a judges job?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    it almost seems like a funny idea to create bots that sends teh hardcores and teh goros to police and judges email addresses with the tag line "Is this extreme pronz?"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Info here.

    Goes into quite a bit of detail.

  10. johnB

    Just who are the IWF ?

    A quick look at their site - no mention of just who runs this outfit nor how are they appointed. Why the reticence ?

    Seem to be yet another self-important charity "doing good", at least in the terms that they understand.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They lied to you

    The lawmakers specifically avoided including the requirement that material violate the OPA.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking at that picture......

    In my opinion, the image linked above does not fall foul of this new law. The law states it must fall into all 3 of these elements:-

    1. That the image is pornographic

    Although she appears to be naked, I wouldn't say this picture was pornographic and it does appear to be in a very 'arty' context.

    2. That the image is grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character

    I wouldn't say it fitted any of these criteria.

    3. That the image portrays in an explicit and realistic way, one of the following extreme acts

    (a. an act which threatens a person's life, b. serious injury to a persons anus, breast or genitals, c. involving a corpse, d. involving a live or dead animal)

    The only one that I can remotely see applying here is section a, threatens a persons life. On this point I would say it's borderline. As she appears to be a large plastic bag, but was the bag effect added using a computer later? She also doesn't appear in much distress, which although not mentioned, I would think is a contributing factor.

    Even if the image is covered by element 3, I wouldn't say it falls into the either of the others and therefore would not be covered by this law. This is of course only one persons opinion and until there are test cases in court, we are never going to answer this question fully.

  13. Len Mackin

    I think we should...

    flood the IWF with thousands of images so that they are completely overloaded and their computers go down.

    Again we have an example of how this Government is trying to bring in populist laws that are ill thought out, unclear and worse still, can be used indiscriminately to place citizens under arrest, destroy their lives, etc as a result.

    It always seemed to me that the law was reasonably clear and worked well untl now. There is so much stuff that it not allowed anymore 'just in case' that we are back in the times of the witchhunters.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wait a minute...

    The police are saying you have to send potential criminal stuff elsewhere? To a non-governmental body, no less?

    Lazy C***s...

    How can such a vague law be legal?

    AC because I find Brown and Whacky Jaquie's images extremely arousing. Especially when I think of them being suffocated. So they should be banned, I guess...

  15. Cameron Colley


    Yet another NuLabour law that makes things illegal "when we say they are" so it can be [ab]used by the police to persecute people who they have no other evidence against or to gain a warrant to find more "evidence".

  16. Simon.W


    the statement that includes, "... and violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals." will criminalize those absolutely pointless JackAss movies

  17. John Imrie

    Borders currently sell

    Battle Royal

    I wonder if they will continue to do so after Jan 9th

  18. Alan

    The police know very little about anything.

    They don't even seem to know the laws concerning tyre tread depth laws (people still get taken to court for only having 1.3mm of tread on a motorcycle tyre- the law states motorcycle tyres must have at least 1mm of tread), so how could they be expected to know about more complex laws?

  19. Al
    Black Helicopters

    Oh dear.

    Plod is suggesting the image gets referred to the Internet Watch Foundation? We're doomed for sure if they're making the decisions.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    IWF Comment

    The IWF have publicly stated they will attempt to help people identify whether an image falls into the EP category, so if people want to send them a large amount of 'possibles' to vet I'm sure they'd appreciate it....

  21. Anonymous Coward

    IWF getting out of hand I think

    why is the Internet Watch Foundation being used to decide what is or isnt illegal? They are an unelected body!! How long till they decide that any nudity is "possibly illegal" and their remit moves again to police an even wider area of the net? How long till a bunch of right wing religious nuts get their hands on the IWF and start to blacklist everything left right and centre? When someone said that the wikipedia farce was the thin end of the wedge, here it is ALREADY getting wider!

    Mines the one with the s & m mag in the pocket

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oxygen tent porn?

    Pant pant.

  23. Antony Riley

    For Porn

    Could someone please explain to me why a privately funded organisation is being tasked with advising the public on what images are legal and what images are not ?

    The IWFs remit is to take reports of objectionable material from the general public and then create a blocklist for ISPs to use at their discretion, it is funded by the ISPs and is purely an attempt to avoid government regulation.

    Surely ISPs might get a bit upset if they find out they're funding an organisation tasked with advising the public on what is and is not legal content when it comes to the internet.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    "You heard the law! The sentence is death!"

    Want a basic rule of thumb? Be afraid.

    Being subject to police action and dragged through the legal system is a punishment on its own. Even if cases are dismissed, and precedents established, people will want to avoid being accused. Cue the chilling effect.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Frank


    I had a look at that picture, as provided by link in the article. Here is a true record of my immediate thoughts.....

    'Woman tries to fight her way past a giant spider's web', probably not.

    'Woman tries on silk nightie in a strong wind and gets all tangled up in it'.....hmmmm, no, silly.

    'Dead woman in oversize body bag comes back to life and tries to get out.'.......eeeeww, but maybe.

    Where is the 'sexuality' in this picture? How can it possibly be regarded as obscene in any way?

  27. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    A modest proposal...

    "The IWFcan determine...whether or not it is potentially showing material in breach of UK legislation..."

    I think I have the answer everyone has been looking for.

    Everything is POTENTIALLY in breach of legislation. The IWF are offering an 'expert' (Ha, ha) opinion. That's fine. What the ISPs should do is provide that opinion before someone accesses a page, but then let them click through anyway.

    The IWF opinion might be considered a 'valuable' service by a customer, so they can keep their watchlist if they want. But why should we convert their 'opinion' into straight law? If someone ignores the warning, clicks through and is later caught by the police, the courts will decide whether they were guilty (as it should be), and the fact that they ignored an 'expert' opinion can be taken into account during sentencing, if they are found guilty.

    But as it is, the IWF are legislators, judge, jury and executioner, all in one, with no oversight....

  28. Matthew Brown

    Or put another way...

    "We have no idea what we're talking about. Go talk to those people over there... *points to IWF* they know things about ipods and stuff. I think his son makes websites."

  29. James Pickett


    "violence that is life threatening"

    Doesn't that rule out just about every Hollywood and TV thriller, or is it only dangerous if there's nudity involved?

  30. Dave


    So, the police themselves "passed it onto a local Police Sergeant." because they believe it is simple enough for all but the lowest ranks to understand, but won't give an actual answer.

    We all know from yesterday's activities that the IWF are:

    a) Useless

    b) Will pass all requests to the Police themselves, (who will say 'Maybe') which the IWF will automatically categorise as a ban.

    What a total fail.

  31. Dave



    How nice to know that anything that is over the line is already illegal to publish, thereby making attempts to discuss by example decidedly difficult already.

  32. Dick Emery
    Thumb Down


    ...we all know how trustworthy the IWF is right? RIIIIGHT???

    What a shambles. I hope this blows up in the governments faces. The IWF should be scrapped immediately. This stupid law should also be scrapped. Time to boot out this crappy government. They've been in power for too long and like any 'regime' that holds power for too long it becomes corrupted.

    Waits for the sound of jackboots at the front door.

  33. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    More worrying!

    I'm much more worried about Mr McNally's picture of a young gent dressed only in a skirt and about to swing a golf club - very sado-masochistic!

    /oh, it's a kilt? Same thing, innit?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    The Internet Watch Foundation is a political organization

    The Internet Watch Foundation is a non-governmental political organization that is self-admittedly not accountable to anyone. Do the Sussex Police ask the local Green's whether to prosecute J-walkers & speeders? Good Grief! Are all British police that daft?

  35. Anonymous Coward


    I must have missed the election. Can someone tell me when the Internet Watch Foundation was made an official part of Government and the judiciary? They must be if the police are sayng the IWF can decide whether something is in breach of UK legislation.

  36. Ned Fowden

    this answers the question, doesn't it ?

    "A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed that the new law will only catch material which would already be illegal under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 but would introduce a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison."

    that seems fairly clear and straightforward to me, or am i missing something ?

  37. Doug

    Wikipedia to the rescue

    Really should look to the police or MoJ for this but in the meantime . You could do worse than looking here :

  38. Steven
    Black Helicopters

    Post them to Jack Straw...?

    Let's send them to that wonderful, quoteable lady, Wacky Jaqui.

    At least that way, her reaction will be the deciding factor in the matter and we will all be able to rest easier at night after a day of hearty chortling at her decisions.

    We'll probably all be just a littttttle bit scared too...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IWF has no legal standing, so how are they involved?

    It's all good and well to refer to the IWF, but as far as I know they have at best an ADVISORY role (or think they have). They can collate, admire, report, blather about it, solicit awards for what they do but they are NOT enforcement.

    If I translate the events in the article it means there is no guidance on the law available, which is going to make enforcement the usual slapdash, haphazard and pretty much random event any other law is subjected to in the UK (with the exception of, say, speeding and parking violations), combined with the occasional political kneejerk when some jerk (without knee) has managed to enhance newspaper sales.

    Thank God nobody claims the UK is a democracy..

    PS: does that mean goatse is now banned?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The internetclock foundation

    who are these people, and are they providing tier one NTP servers?

    Gosh I hope it is not some vigilante organisation trying to apply their cambridge style morals and ethics onto the rest of us, need anyone be reminded of the cambridge Russian spies :)

    WTF, let's consult with the red hand gang, or the famous five on matters of legal precedent.

  41. Guy Herbert

    MoJ hopeless too

    Typically poisonous Home Office drafting which the MoJ is trying quite hard to misunderstand.

    It is very clearly NOT a criterion for the new s63 offence that the material be obscene within the definition of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

    The increase in the tarriff in s71 is for a specified offence under the older act, and nothing to do with the s63 offence.

    The word 'obscene' *does* appear in s63 but there is nothing there or elsewhere to indicate it has a specialised meaning, and the words that it appears with ("...grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character...") relate to the subjective reaction of an unidentified and uncharacterised person, and do not contain any of the highly specialised meaning of 'obscene' as "tending to deprave or corrupt" used for prosecutions under the Obscene Publications Act.

    Furthermore s63 *does* hang on a new definition, that of 'pornographic' which has not been attempted before in English Law. Whether something is 'pornographic' hinges on making assumptions about the intention of the *maker* of the image to provoke sexual arousal. There's no fundamental requirement that material be of a sexual nature or intended to be, for it to be 'obscene' in the specialised sense, so there is no particular reason to find a relationship between the two offences, other save that they both issue from the prurient puritans at the Home Office.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going Round...

    If they keep going round in circles, maybe the circles will get smaller and eventually they will all disappear up their own backsides? More likely the Great British Firewall will be imposed, complete with Phorm monitoring and recording and another huge step on the road to Gordongrad will be taken.

  43. dwr 50
    Paris Hilton

    Post some Porn...

    so we can SEE what you're talking about. Then arrest yourselves.

  44. Dan
    Thumb Down

    Is anyone else...

    ...reminded of Robocop? In the first film, everything was simple (serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law) and by the time it gets to one of the lame sequels, he's got hundreds of picky little laws to deal with, gets confused, his 16-bit brain crashes and he goes a bit funny. The Police are expected to enforce an increasingly large number of increasingly complex laws, maybe they need replacing with infallible machines...

  45. amanfromMars Silver badge

    An Idiot Simple Question the House would like to Know

    To tread into Erotographic Pornography has One Surely Prepared for the Expected. Anything else is Assault and Abuse..... however, in the Land of Nymph and Satyrs are there no Losers?

    And you may expect Analysis of Shared Replies to be Mined for Root Server Source RSS.

    Do the Ministry of Justice have Special Access to Expert Professional Pornography Services? Who advises Ministers on such Prickly Matters?

  46. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Oh boy, girl, androgyne!

    Cream LP cover, blues song Nobody's business but my own, any song by Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis (Sweet Little Sixteen), Brenda Lee (Sweet nuthins), etc etc, the older it is, the worse it gets.

    Art?? Botticelli? All those prepubescent lovelies tempting gods and heroes and rich guys? The Romans (girls and boys! The emperors especially Tiberius, not to mention the incestuous ones). The Greeks (boys and girls, especially the pretty young boys), all those incestuous polygamous, underage Egyptian marriages, among the Royals no less! Time to shut down the British Museum, the National Gallery etc and confiscate their postcards and prints. Not to mention the damage to tits, arses and genitals inflicted by our own monarchs on their opponents. How about the violence perpetrated by and done to Joan of Arc? All the martyrs? How old was the Virgin Mary, eh??

    And the women of olden days were washed up after four kids by the age of 18!

    That's History in the bin! And geography with all the nastiness going on today in broad daylight in too many countries to mention. Not to mention ethnography, or space travel - they can see all these countries heaving away from space. Masturbation! Oh deary me - that's biology out the windae! And all our pregnant teens - into the can with em!

    And only sex? (Oh, I forgot to mention Lady Chatterly's Lover, Ulysses, and anything by Henry Miller - they could all be illustrated and put on line - and Anaïs Nin). Violence, and binge eating and alcohol and swearing and wearing pink knickers or short skirts, or hoodies, or no tie or the wrong tie, or "offensive" jeans, or driving around in a car whose back seat might be used for god knows what perversions. And dildos and bum plugs (oops not them - that'd rile the judges). And the streets! My god. And the parks - hotbeds of hell! And houses - the mind reels...

    Might as well shut down the whole country and deport us to the Australian desert or Van Demon's Land. Only the Plymouth Brethren and the Wee Frees would be allowed to stay to work for the judges and censors and politically correct politicians.

    Hallelujah (Christ on the cross - not a good example :-)

    (Paris cos she might be able to bribe some of these bastards to leave say New Mexico open as a reservation for sinners and publicans)

  47. Anonymous Coward


    "If you believe you have come across illegal pornographic material on a website then . . "

    Make sure you wipe up afterwards?

    In all seriousness, I've been increasingly worried about this (I mean the monitoring itself, not the pr0n element per se). So much so that I've rented myself a couple of servers in a datacenter somewhere in Sweden and everything that comes out of my machines here in the UK goes through a VPN to there.

    I'm now wondering how long it will be before ISPs are "asked" to block outgoing VPNs on domestic net connections, for the children of course. No doubt there will be a bit of a furore about that from homeworkers, but, to be fair, if you are using a VPN to connect to a corporate network, why the hell is your employer not paying for a separate commercial grade DSL/Cable connection?

  48. David Pollard


    It would be interesting to know if the images of waterboarding that were broadcast on yesterday evening's TV (just after 10 o'clock) would fall within the guidelines.

    Although it was appropriate for this to have been brought to public attention, I certainly find it "grossly offensive" that it does actually occur; and there can be little doubt that the activity shown "threatens harm to life or limb".

  49. Luther Blissett

    Nuffink to do with us, guv

    > Sussex Police said they were unable to answer her question last week but had passed it onto a local Police Sergeant.

    Operational independence? If it's child pr0n, ok, few people would have an objection to the police doing something about it, least of all the plods themselves. Some plods even want to be reknown moral philosphers. But adult pr0n - you don't suppose that Plod is embarrassed to have to make a decision that someone higher up might overrule?

    "Sarge. You dirty dog. That pr0n you cleared last week. I've had a complaint about it. Seems it ended up at Mrs J.P (fill in name of magistrate), and now I've seen it I tend to agree. Filthy, that's what it is. Sarge, you're nicked. Get in there".

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This law provides provision for mainstream films

    QUOTE (Amongst other posts)


    By Simon.W Posted Tuesday 9th December 2008 12:01 GMT


    the statement that includes, "... and violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals." will criminalize those absolutely pointless JackAss movies

    Nope mainstream movies are not included as this is covered by section 64 of the same law which allows an exemption for classified films (ie has a age related certificate 12, 15, 18). Unless a clip has been removed from the film and thus doesn't have the full context of the film.

  51. Eric Dennis

    Big bone + anal sex = illegal in the UK??

    So an image or movie depicting anal sex between a man with a large penis (say, 10 inches) and a woman, would be considered "illegal" under this new UK law, since it can be easily assumed that the large rod can be injurious to the anus. Don't you think?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liz Vicious

    I'm going to go down and see the fuzz and ask to inspect and consider a selection of Liz Vicious pics.

  53. Joe Blogs


    Emmm... what's extreme porn got to do with the IWF? IWF watches for things on the interweb, porn doesn't become porn when it's on the net. It is possible for people to have porn (extreme or not) on things that are nothing to do with the web, like books, film based pictures, hell, even digital camera pictures that have not been on the web. That's like asking the DOT to investigate a murder becuase it happened within a few miles of a road. Should I ask the IWF if the porn I have in books in my closet is extreme? and if they want to see them they will have to come round my house to check them out as they are not on the web!!

    Also, keeping with the road analogy, the picture in the story is as close to extreme porn as taking a picture of someone naked and near a road - this is extreme because a car could come along and hit the person being photographed - about as much danger as in this picture!!!

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Captain Jamie

    "More likely the Great British Firewall will be imposed, complete with Phorm monitoring and recording"

    Don't joke about such things. With Norman Lamont now on the board of Phorm it could turn out to be reality for both the outgoing and incoming govts.

  55. Volker Hett
    Paris Hilton

    luckily where still somewhat cool about erotic pictures :)

    but I think it could be fun to feed the german magazin Stern website to the IWF, especially the photo pages.

    This link is most probably not safe for work in other places than that where I work :-)

    Paris, because ..., ah, just because

  56. Mark

    likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals.

    What about Casino Royale?

  57. Franklin

    So, let me get this straight...

    "I have an image that is potentially illegal. Can you tell me if it is actually illegal?"

    "Well, show it to the IWF. They can tell you if it's potentially illegal."

    "Look, I already know it's *potentially* illegal; I need to know if it is *actually* illegal or not!"

    "The IWF can refer images to us that are potentially illegal."

    "We've established that it's potentially illegal. I'm referring it to you to find out if it's actually illegal."

    "Send the image to the IWF and they can evaluate whether or not it's potentially illegal."

    So, um...whose job is it to make a decision, anyway?

  58. Jim Coleman

    Well now

    In front of me I have a picture of a well-formed man, stripped completely naked except for a nappy. He has had body piercings performed on his hands and feet, which have been nailed to planks of wood and there's blood everywhere. Not only that but the whole image has been made to look like a religious scene! How offensive! Clearly the situation he's in is endangering his life, and the nakedness and the nappy......words fail me! It's disgusting!

    Oh wait, it's in an illustrated Bible.

    Better ban that then.

  59. Tom

    Hasn't anyone worked it out yet?

    The police have absolutley no intention of listening to a word that comes out of 'Subversive Smiths' poluted little mouth, can you not imagine how much extra work she's creating for them? that and the fact she's worse than worthless to our political system, all she has to offer are headaches.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a joke

    ""We have no idea what we're talking about. Go talk to those people over there... *points to IWF* they know things about ipods and stuff. I think his son makes websites."

    Nice. Kinda captures the quintessential idiocy hiding unconvincingly behind all this. Asking the police for an opinion on what constitutes 'extreme' or 'indecent' pr0n? Hmmm... And what *exactly* qualifies them above anyone else, including the jobsworths at the IWF, to make the call?

    Speaking for myself, I know it's a very personal and subjective interpretation - I'm rather more broad-minded than the majority (allegedly), so I see nothing wrong in all manner of fetishistic sexual activiity; I can see why it's turn-on for many consenting men and women - what I can't see is how a policeman is supposed to know better than me what is and what isn't 'extreme' pr0n?

    The simple truth is that they don't: they are not any more or less qualified to make these kind of value judgements, nor are fallible politicians or self-appointed online moral censors.

    What a disaster for us all.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What BS is this?

    Ok, I'm no legal expert but if the new legislation will only catch images which are already illegal under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, then why the heck do we need a new batch of legislation to make something illegal which is already illegal?

    So, this new legislation to going to clarify things huh? I think pretty evidently, it won't but will in fact do the opposite.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What BS is this?

    The Police and Criminal Evidence Act has undergone 26 revisions since it's inception.

    26 ! Wacky Jacqui, have you gone bananas or something?

    I bet the Police are completely baffled, confused and haven't got a f**king clue where to start when it what is legal and what is illegal.

    3000 new criminal offences have been comitted since this Labour government came to power, so all of a sudden, there's a massive overwhelming need to criminalise everything and everyone when there has been no such need ever before in English history.

  63. Chris Martin
    Dead Vulture

    The IWF

    I have emailed the IWF and the Police to ask...

    1) What other sites are banned due to images that no one can really agree on.

    2) What should I do with my Virgin Killer amlum which is in my record collection, afterall its good music but not worth having if I need to replace my front door after the enforcer has knocked it down!

    So har they have both not replied my email was sent over 24 hours ago!

    The Grave Stone, because this is the start of the end for the internet, we will all be going back to Text based browsers and ANSI / ASCII art very soon!

  64. Watashi

    Sensiblification of the law

    In recent times I've started to understand the way British law works. The government will pass a piece of law which, if applied exactly would be pretty harsh, but knowing that lawmakers are idiots and don't know what they're doing, the police and the judges will apply the law in ways that make it less stringent and authoritarian. Take for example, the laws on assisted suicide - today a case of assisted suicide against the family of a young rugby player crippled by an accident was thrown out because it was "not in the public interest" to pursue a prosecution, even though the judge said that it was likely a conviction would be obtained. The judge has moderated a law to allow a sensible situation to arise. The law does not allow you to help someone kill themselves, but in certain circumstances the law will not be applied. Similarly, police forces have taken a rather casual attitude to cannabis and even before the drug was downgraded, it was treated as a minor issue that would frequently be ignored. Those caught in possession would be let off with an official warning, rather than being prosecuted.

    So, for this new set of laws I expect the following: if you are on the sex offenders register you will have your computer regularly searched for any material that falls into the category of 'extreme porn'. If someone is caught looking at 'extreme porn' at work, or in a public place, the police can now be brought in to deal with the culprit. If someone is found to be an active member of a web-based community dedicated to questionable sexual practices, you can now be placed on the sex offender's register. The police will also now have the power to treat faked rape porn websites in the same way they treat paedophilia websites under the logic that anyone who pays to watch women be raped is much more likely than the average person to commit an act of rape (I don't know if there is any evidence to actually show this is true). Credit card details will be seized and groups of people will be arrested. Importantly, any one in the UK now making this kind of material on a large scale can now be prosecuted. It is also possible that ISPs will start scanning for people regularly downloading material of this nature and pass their names onto the police.

    What I doubt will happen is that the average Joe will find his computer seized at random and be banged up because he has a few mild bondage pics in his porn collection. The amount of work needed to look through thousands of pictures and videos only for a punter to escape prosecution because the lawyer successfully argues that the handful of questionable images fall just outside the definition of 'extreme porn' would be prohibitive. For the law to work, those applying it on the ground will have to distinguish from curious, sex obsessed porn thrill-seekers (ie 90% of men) and small minority of dangerous sexual deviants for whom porn is likely to trigger harmful behaviour.

    It is also worth remembering that a very unpopular Labour party is up for re-election in just over a year's time. They don't want to frighten millions of men into voting Conservative by making inevitably high-profile prosecutions of normal porn users who happen to have gathered a few questionable pictures in their years of surfing. New Labour justice works by demonising certain groups of people (which it is then acceptable to treat like animals), and the typical middle-class professional male voter (ie Mondeo man) does not take kindly to being demonised or treated like an animal. For most of us, this law is really just cognitive behavioural therapy; curiosity is fine, but if you get into the habit (or fail to get out of the habit) of looking at 'extreme porn' the police will come and get you.

  65. Thomas Baker

    Much of the art in every gallery in the world then, no?

    Lots of naked children, cherubs, etc.

    Be interested to know what's done about them.

    Where the fuck did the IWF come from too? I've never heard of them before? All of a sudden they've been banning shit left right and centre for years? Not on the internet I've been using they haven't, or at least they've been pretty piss poor about it. They're not elected or chosen or even screened, WTF!?

    We need a Differnet™

  66. Poopie McStinklestein


    Bet Joe McNally is wondering where the sudden interest in that picture is coming from.

  67. Bounty

    Is that chick even naked?

    The chick in that pic might just be wearing a low cut dress. And I think she's just walking throught a site that's getting painted, so they've put up tarps. Big whoop.

    Now for some seriuos hardcore stuff (Simpson themed in lieu of the other Simpson/porn news out recently)

  68. Pierre

    @ Chris Martin

    "we will all be going back to Text based browsers and ANSI / ASCII art very soon!"

    You wish. But you won't even have that. If your ASCII art depicts extreme porn, behind the bars you go. After all, naughty Simpsons pics ARE kiddie porn in Australia, aren't they? I bet the Australian example will have quite a few followers in Blighty. Especially amongst the IWF / Wacky Smith followers.

  69. Bob Ginger

    @RotaCyclic - "What BS is this?"


    Ok, I'm no legal expert but if the new legislation will only catch images which are already illegal under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, then why the heck do we need a new batch of legislation to make something illegal which is already illegal?

    So, this new legislation to going to clarify things huh? I think pretty evidently, it won't but will in fact do the opposite.



    The OPA concerns itself with publication and distribution only.

    This is of little help to our moral guardians when the producers of material they find distasteful ("extreme porn") are happily working outside UK jurisdiction, eg. The US of A, where their first amendment protections generally safeguard them from state intrusion.

    Hence the introduction of a strict liability offence of "posession", thus shifting criminal responsibility fimly inside England and Wales.


  70. Chris Thomas

    Reg editors too bored?

    They spend an awful amount of time discussing and writing about the issue of extreme porn, I wonder if there is any reason for it, perhaps a particular bias that might be played out? (extremely of course)

  71. Ian Miller

    Was this spokeman's comment serious?

    Did the Ministry spokeman really say "Material covered includes necrophilia, bestiality and violence"? If so, is the obvious reference to old joke about "flogging a dead horse" intentional? Is possible the Ministry spokeman actually has a sense of humour?


  72. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's really quite easy

    If you like it, it's obscene.

    you know why...

  73. Graham Marsden

    Some comments...

    Ok, given that I've been involved in the campaign against this law for the last two years, let's address a few points:

    1) The IWF has absolutely *NOTHING* to do with this law! The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 and the Ministry of Justice's guidance make no reference to the IWF at all. The original Consultation did, but only to say that the IWF had had no reports of this being hosted in the UK in 2003-4 and claiming that this might be due to the "deterrant effect" of the Obscene Publications Act (yeah, right...)

    2) For an image to be prosecuted (as far as I understand it), firstly the Police must find it in your possession, then consider it to be an "extreme image", they then have charge you with the offence and pass the case on to the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS then have to get permission from the Director of Public Prosecutions to actually take the case to court. (In the mean time, of course, your computer has been seized, along with all your CDs, videos, DVDs etc and you're not going to see those again for a *long* time because you're not an MP!)

    3) The problem (well, amongst the problems!) is that the MoJ's "guidance" is as vague and ill-defined as the law passed by Parliament. They say that "The words ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘disgusting’ are not alternatives to ‘obscene character’ but are examples of it. They are drawn from the ordinary dictionary definition of ‘obscene’" but they don't say *which* dictionary. Chambers says "Obscene [...] 3. (UK Law) Liable to corrupt and deprave", but the Government specifically excluded this by voting down an amendment brought in the law to include this definition.

    The guidance also says that "Serious injury should be given its ordinary English meaning" but then specifically excludes case law regarding Grievous Bodily Harm which does refer to "serious injury" and which might have given some clue as to what is included or excluded.

    The MoJ says "As with any law, once Parliament has passed it, it is for the courts to interpret and apply it." which sounds like a massive cop-out requiring that the Courts should try to sort out this abysmally incoherent law.

    4) The MoJ says that "the new law will only catch material which would already be illegal under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959", but this is a blatant lie, since it criminalises images excerpted from films which are entirely *legal* to publish and sell under the OPA. It also creates a new definition of "pornographic" since it declares such an image "must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal", something which the OPA does not do.

    5) The guidance says "An image must come within the terms of all three elements before it will fall foul of the offence" ie that

    a) it's "pornographic" (defined as mentioned as: "must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal", ie in someone else's subjective opinion, it's to give someone their jollies),

    b) its "grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character" (but it then goes on to say "The words ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘disgusting’ are not alternatives to ‘obscene character’ but are examples of it", which suggests that it should at the least say "and" not "or" or, even better, "to be considered obscene it must *also* be grossly offensive *and* disgusting", although that's still entirely subjective) and finally:

    c) "An extreme act is one which threatens a person’s life, which results or is likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals" (I'll skip the necrophilia and bestiality references)

    The problem is the guidance then goes on to say that "Life-threatening is not defined in the Act. It will therefore take its ordinary English meaning and will be a question of fact for the magistrate or jury", but it only suggests what it *could* (not does) include depictions of and it doesn't even say whether those depictions *are* actual examples of what the law would cover.

    In other words, again, it's up to a Court to decide if an image is actually covered under all of these criteria (presumably after the Police and the DPP have decided that it is or could be). But what this means is that you or I will have no idea if an image will fall foul of the law because it's not *our* view on it that matters!

    Presumably violent films (even featuring nudity) or art won't be included, except that's not necessarily the case if you take an excerpt from one and stick it in the same folder (or on the same hard drive? Or is that just on the same computer??) as your porn collection because then the Police can argue that the "context" suggests you took it "for sexual arousal", ie they'll decide if you're getting your jollies from looking at it! (So probably images of the Crucifixion aren't going to be illegal unless someone's drawn a knob on it like some kids did on the ones in the RE books at school...!)

    Of course, probably, as I've mentioned in other posts on this subject, what's going to happen is that this will end up being a "Consolation Prize Law" where if the Police have nicked you for something but can't pin it on you, they'll dig through your computer and see if they can find any "extreme porn" to justify the original arrest.

    In the meantime we have a "chilling effect" produced where people are forced to self-censor just in case they have something that might fall foul of this law.

    There is, however, still time to do something, so, once again, I urge people to read the above, then write to their MP via and get their elected representatives to demand that the MoJ produce some coherent and definitive information on what this law is or isn't intended to cover instead of saying "it's not up to us, let the people self-censor and let the Police make subjective decisions and let the Courts sort it out whilst we find something new to persecute!"

  74. Anonymous Coward


    And yet today the governement announced that anybody caught for shop lifting and burglary and is a drug addict, alcoholic, cronic gambler, poor should not be sentenced to jail but should get community orders, I take it this is becuase the jails will be full of people with extreme porn tastes?

    When will these feckers stop targeting normal people and start taking tough action against the elements of society that are causing real harm to the country. Community sentences are not working, they will work for some people but not career criminals if it doesnt work the first time it aint going to work, and people who are comminiting these offense see that they arent going to be punished and so do it even more, we need to be tough on these people. Oh but i forgot forcing them to give up drugs is against their human rights, but allowing them on the streets to rob people and beat up grannies is fine, and not against the rights of the general law abiding public (governement ammendment: what law abiding public, the only people not commiting crimes are members of the labour party and anybody who gives us hugh payments: end of statement please report of the work camps post haste)

    NZ here I come

  75. Anonymous Coward

    The difference between prn and extreme porn..

    The first makes you go 'oooh!' the other makes you go 'ewww!'

  76. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    A lot of comments here...

    There's a lot of comments here; enough that it will take time to read htem all. While i read, I think I'll submit this for approval by the masses:

    Someone should point the IWF at the *chans and thier ilk. The resulting war would be something worth selling tickets to.

    Right then, coat, hat, gone.

  77. Big Dave

    Scarey "thought police" crap

    Here's hoping someone goes to the high courts and challenges this ridiculous and abusive legislation.

    Even the OPA is dodgey, IMHO. How can someone else tell me "that is obscene"?

    If they mean "everyone would find that obscene" then they are obviously plain wrong.

    If they mean "most people would find that obscene" then who says so and where are the exhaustive studies to support them?

    If they mean "some people would find that obscene" then I'll introduce them to quite a few citizens that find women showing more than their naked eyes obscene, so nearly every image in every publication in the land must be illegal.

    NuLab REALLY need to cut back on their political law-making - they make themselves look stupid in so many ways these days - they don't need this as well and nor do we.

  78. michael

    *Internet* watch foundataion

    so if I submitted the same pic on a pice of paper would they still refur me to the IWF??? that would be fun

  79. Anonymous Coward


    "The IWF can determine whether or not that website is hosted in the UK, and whether or not it is potentially showing material in breach of UK legislation."

    Sorry, that is no help at all. If a WEBSITE is in breach of the law for showing certain things it can be taken down. If I mistakenly believe that it is not against the law, or it would indeed have been taken down, and view the site, I go to jail.

    It is ridiculous that:

    a) the law is so vague and subjective

    b) the police clearly have clearly not been given adequate guidance

    c) the public can see the law is vague and are ASKING for guidance but not getting it.

    Makes me wonder if the whole point is to induce fear and make people behave through fear. As an earlier poster said, it is an extreme punishment in itself to be taken to court, even if acquitted because we get the "well he must be guilty or they wouldn't have arrested him/nothing to hide" brigade swinging into play.

    Of course, even if acquitted, DNA is taken on arrest and the arrest will come up in subsequent CRB checks which are needed more and more in order to hold most types of jobs these days.

    So a vague law hurts us all. Anyone mistakenly picked up will suffer potential job loss and be unable to continue their careers. All this to prove what most people with an ounce of sense could see, and did in fact warn the government about before the law was passed. So "lessons will be learned", even though we already knew. They will "listen" and change - what a waste of money and lives. Why not listen BEFORE passing a criminally vague law?

    It all seems a little extreme to me. And before anyone starts banging on about protecting the children - this is about free adults not children. There are laws to protect children already.

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