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.

Episode 016 The Pageist Talks Toxic Masculinity

Episode the Sixteenth; Wherein the Pageist goes her own way whilst Britain attempts to do the same, (hopefully she’ll have better luck). The topic is toxic masculinity and the messages that lead to rape culture and mass violence. Book reviews return next week.

00.50 Intro & Announcements

  • Listener Survey (anonymous and quick and earns my eternal gratitude): here.

8.33 Brock Turner: Toxic Masculinity & Rape Culture

18.44 Omar Mateen: Homophobia & Misogyny

26.58 Closing Remarks

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing a series of books on Female Led Relationships by NookieNotes beginning with She Makes the Rules.
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
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May is International Masturbation Month

I don't know what's going on with the vulva there. Lube?

Much like October having an identity crisis over whether or not it’s National or International Kink Month, there seems to be some confusion over whether the masturbation awareness/celebration is to be on a national or international level for the month of May.

According to the creators of the day, though, Good Vibrations, it is International Masturbation Month.

So, just everybody should get their rubs on.

Here is this year’s press release from Good Vibrations.

And here are some other facts about the special month from Good Vibes. Including ‘advanced techniques’ for penis-havers. Because we all know the guys have the basics down before they’re fifteen.

Oh Joy Sex Toy has the vulva-owners covered.

There’s also the HappyPlayTime app for vulva-owners to practice on or learn about their bodies. I’ll be reviewing the web-version on Sunday.

This ad is part of the Give Yourself a Hand campaign in South Africa. Nice. (source)

This ad is part of the Give Yourself a Hand campaign in South Africa. Nice. (source)

International Masturbation Month was started in response to the firing of Jocelyn Elders in 1995. She was the Surgeon General (the first female African American to hold the position) and she suggested masturbation be taught in schools as part of sex education. She was ultimately fired for this. And this was under Bill Clinton, who wasn’t exactly a prude in the sex department.

Here is an interesting and informative article about Jocelyn Elders (you’re about to love her a little).

According to Wikipedia, this whole lark started out as one day, May 7th, and it was International Masturbation Day. Eventually to be expanded to the entire month.

The 7th this year is a Saturday, so most people will not be working. Instead, you can be wanking. A woman got fired for so much as bringing up the subject. It’s your right. It’s your responsibility!

(Having posted about my own need to spend more time with myself, I suppose I should do my part…)

Ashley Madison and Kink with Mixtape Heart

Recently, website-for-cheaters Ashley Madison was hacked and the personal information of the members was posted online. It was schadenfreude on a massive scale. Mixtape Heart did an excellent piece of writing over on FetLife in response to the response.

Don’t Cheer for Ashley Madison Going Down Just Yet

If the Ashley Madison hack didn’t send chills down your spine, it might bear a bit of closer inspection. Let’s set aside for a moment all the other potentially sensitive information that was released apart from names, emails, and addresses – and that’s not a small set aside, by the way – and just focus on the basic doxxing itself. Even taking out the joke names and fake accounts, literally millions of people were just doxxed because a group of people didn’t like their life choices.

The group claimed they were doing it primarily to punish the company that created the architecture, of course, but they were also indifferent to the harm the doxxing could do to the customers, basically shrugging and saying “they brought it on themselves by signing up.”

Except they didn’t. It was done to them by a bunch of people who had the tools to find information that was supposed to be private and reveal it to the world. All because they thought the site promoted terrible behavior, and therefore justified any actions they took against it and its customers.

The fact that personal information – again, names, emails, street addresses and more – for millions of people was revealed for the internet to do whatever it wanted with that information. And all this is fine, the hackers feel, because it’s targeting “bad people” and a website that enables them.

Are you seeing where this is going?
Are you scared yet?

At this point I feel I have to make one thing clear – I don’t approve of the idea behind Ashley Madison. I think it’s crass and horrifying, frankly, and I’m glad that it was apparently flooded with spam accounts and fake personas, if only because that means it was less effective than it could have been. But as much as I disapprove of the site, that only makes an objection to the hack more important. Just like we have to vigorously defend the 1st Amendment rights of people we personally disagree with in order to keep speech free, we have to condemn this hack because of what it represents.

There’s a terrible temptation to forgive dangerous acts when deep down – or not so deep down – we feel that somehow the victim deserved what they got. We’re all human, and poetic justice appeals to us. A bunch of cheaters and wannabe cheaters have their secret life exposed? Serves ’em right, the two-faced bastards! Sure, we might make a few public noises about how it’s scary to think of what hackers can do, but mostly we just laugh at the cheaters and repost articles about how Josh Duggar apparently wasn’t content to be a child molester but wanted to double down with infidelity too.

Except we have to be really careful what we excuse, you guys. This isn’t corporate whistleblowing or a Snowden-style takedown of scary government practices. Those are controversial enough, but even the critics can acknowledge there’s something bigger at work, a desire to change society or force accountability when nothing else can do so. I suppose you could claim this was also trying to affect a change, but that would be like trying to take down Blackwater by doxxing all of its employees – even if you succeed, you’re creating a tremendous amount of collateral damage.

You can’t call information back once it’s out there, and you can’t control who will use or it how they’ll do it. Abusive spouses might find partners who got away from them. Stalkers could mine it for targets. Jealous partners could get violent. And that’s not even counting the cases of mistaken identity – or someone whose identity was used without their knowledge – and all the harm that can come from them.

We can’t simply wave those things away. There are people behind this information dump. People with families, jobs, lives. Yeah, I’m sure a whole lot of legitimate cheaters just got outed. But if you’re comfortable with how it happened, you need to stop and think very carefully about where that path leads.

Because next time it could very easily be our names and information out there. Let’s face it, we sometimes have problems being outed by members of our own community – now imagine everything you ever posted and hosted here was put in a file for the whole internet to fawn over. I’m sure some of you are working behind several layers of anonymity and would survive that just fine, and others are totally out about their lifestyle and would shrug at being “outed”, but I’m equally sure that a lot of people aren’t either of those things.

Let me repeat it, for it bears repeating – if we allow that a small group people disapproving of behavior promoted on a website is sufficient reason to take down that site and doxx all its users, we’re in deep fucking trouble.

So don’t give in to that impulse to excuse it just because it feels like poetic justice, or because it proved that some celebrity you hate is even more of a hypocritical dirtbag than you previously imagined. You don’t have to approve of the site or its patrons, but unless you want the world to shrug when another group turns its eyes towards a site like this and decides we don’t deserve privacy because of what we do, don’t condone it either.

We’re better than this.
Let’s prove it.

The original post (and much discussion in the comments) is here.