Washing up and the Digital Economy Bill

The Digital Economy Bill has become law.

This is Bad News with a capital What. The. Fuck.

Even with the way the news has been going in the previous, oh, eleven months :cough:Brexitkickedthisshitoff:cough:, THIS still ranks up there in poorly-thought-out ‘WHY, though?!’ legislative decisions.

{This post is being clattered out in a rush when I’m supposed to be doing other things, but I’ve just received the happy news and have to get this out of my system. It may not be up to my usual standards, but it’s difficult to write coherently while screaming obscenities at your monitor.}

The Digital Economy Bill, for those of you not in the U.K.—this applies to some of you now, so you may want to pay attention—it’s a bill that purports to PROTECT THE CHILDREN! from the harmful pornography by making all sites that feature adult content put in age checks and banning certain types of porn—especially (completely legal) BDSM activities—entirely.

They’ve given so little thought on how to implement this on such a grand scale or how to protect people’s data it’s nearly impressive.

I mean, I’d be impressed if blood weren’t shooting out of my nose.

What Does This Have to Do With Me, For I Do Not Live In the UK?

Well, if a site that you enjoy is based in the U.K. and they can’t afford the identification software (many can’t because they’re small businesses like Pandora Blake’s Dreams of Spanking), they’ll have to shut down. {That first link is SFW–the second link is not.}

Some will self-censor their content so they don’t have to worry about getting blocked in their own country. Like seeing marks after a spanking? Better hope that site you like isn’t U.K. based.

Also banned: female ejaculation, fisting, face-sitting (that was from a previous bill), gags, rape play, anything that shows blood… You know, just a good Saturday night.

If you produce content and you feature that sort of content and would like people in the U.K. to give you money, let’s hope your consumers have a VPN. Because you’re going to get blocked. (You do have identification software in place, right? That’ll get you blocked if you don’t.)

What Does That Have to Do with Washing Up?

I’m glad you asked, hypothetical person.

Lil info about how the political process work over here in Britain. (RUN, Scotland! RUUUUUN and take Northern Ireland and Wales with you!)

See, there’s going to be this here General Election in June (the day before my birthday! happy fucking birthday to ME).
In the UK they can set the General Election whenever they want. Theresa May a.k.a. Satan said she wouldn’t hold one until 2020.

Hey. It’s 2017.

For some unknown reason, bills in process can’t carry over from one Parliament to the next. (Parliament is dissolved and reconstituted for each government.)

So. When a General Election is called, there’s a time called the wash-up period, where, just aaaaall the open bills are dealt with so the next Parliament has a clear inbox.

The Bill was a pig’s breakfast anyway, but with another few (hundred) years maybe they could have ironed out some of the impossible to implement bits. Now it’s been rubber stamped as-in and given royal assent, which is the last step and means it is a law.

Right now.

In 2017.

Which I’m sure you’ll notice is NOT 2020, which is when, at soonest, the next General Election and wash-up period was supposed to be.

Paige, You Seem Very Upset. Have Some Tea. What Do You Need Clarification On?

You’re very kind and a good listener. Thank you.

I need clarification on everyfuckingthing.

This bill was designed by people who have zero experience with… life, seemingly.

At a class at Eroticon taught by Myles Jackman about the laws in Britain surrounding obscenity and such we talked about this bill.

In England they have had a couple laws called the Obscene Publication Acts since 1959—so we were discussing whether or not the Digital Economy Bill refers only to visual porn or also to writing or audio.

Mr Jackman explained that even if your site is for educational purposes it doesn’t exempt you from prosecution—if someone decides they are offended.

Considering that private one-to-one fantasy chat–as in on a messenger service–has been used to prosecute people–that now counts as ‘publication’—putting something on a blog certainly counts.

There are pieces I’ve been making notes to write that for sure breach their new, open-minded standards, and that I had wanted to record as audio bonuses for Patreon supporters, but I can’t do that now without worrying about someone deciding to make an example of me.

Do I go with the philosophy: ‘There’s so much out there, they’re not going to bother with me’?

Because if I were to be fined or imprisoned, I would likely be deported afterwards. I don’t have the security of being born here.

My site is words (and the podcast, but it’s not video or photos, is what I mean) so do I need verification? The wording of the bill is what I call squishy. So they can mould it however they want. Sometimes it says ‘pornography’ and sometimes it says ‘adult content’.

My site is definitely adult content, but I wouldn’t call it pornography.

Will people only find out if their site qualifies when they are prosecuted or fined?

Are these forward-thinking idiots going to issue some guidelines at some point or do they not care what the perverts do because they just want us to all go away?

Are there only very specific age verification sites or software the government will consider legitimate? Otherwise do I have to decide on whichever verification company seems the most trustworthy for the least money (because I’m just rolling in the dough over here).

They were talking about asking people for driving licenses or credit cards for proof of age, but the idea of your information sitting somewhere connected to your porn habits isn’t fucking terrifying. Especially since they hadn’t sorted that out before the big rubber stamp came down.


  • -pops up from the abyss- So, from what I’ve been hearing they actually amended the bill before it went in and used the obscenities law rather than the BFFC’s 18 rating. This basically includes things considered illegal such as Beastiality, snuff etc. There is a poorly worded phrase about ‘serious damage to breasts, anus or genitalia’ but I think the word serious should allow some leeway?

    Still doesn’t help with the age verification crap or security issues surrounding storage of data but is a small victory…

    • thepageist says:

      Well, welcome back from the abyss. I hope it wasn’t too dark down there. 🙂

      From what Pandora Blake explained to me on Twitter (bless her!) the age verification stuff will only apply to people with images or video on their sites. So I’m safe there, thankfully. However, the obscenities laws have always been in effect and continue to apply (those will apply to this site) so I still have questions about that. I’m trying not to worry too much, something I have varying success with depending on the minute and my mood.

      (It’s good to see your words. 🙂 )

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