The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Cameron, announced today that his government was planning strict pornography controls in order to stem the ‘corroding influence’ pornography is having on British society, and the minds of children in particular.

David Cameron

The most controversial part of the bill seeks to create an opt-in system that will require new broadband subscribers to specifically access pornography.

Violent pronography

Many of the rules announced today, and it could be argued all of them, are simple modernizations of the regulations that the United Kingdom already has when it comes to pornography. One of the rules announced this morning that was widely praised was the criminalization of online violent rape simulation pornography.

That ban is already in force in Britain’s brick and mortar sex shops, giving ammunition to supporters of the ban who say online pornography should be regulated alongside physical pornography. The same argument can be used for the opt-in clause of the new rules. Sex shops demand an opt-in, why shouldn’t internet pornographic websites?

David Cameron versus freedom of speech

Britain does not have a written constitution, instead relying on the tradition of the country’s law-making bodies and the monarchy. In this vein, the country does not have hard formal protections of freedom of speech apart from the 1689 Bill of Rights, which provides for free speech in parliament, and the European Convention on human rights, a document which few European countries are entirely in line with in any case.

Whether or not pornography is covered by freedom of speech is debatable, but it’s certain that it was nowhere near as liberally regulated in the days before broadband. The decision by the Mr. Cameron and his government was credited to the Daily Mail by the Prime Minister itself. The paper has run a campaign decrying the corruption caused by the easy availability of online pornography.

Cameron should be expecting a strong backlash from internet libertarians in the coming months. The British porn block is sure to be a target for hackers, and its many loopholes will be exposed fairly early on.

Unless David Cameron himself seeks to reinvent the firewall, the barrier will be permeable, and there will be massive problems in implementation if the plan actually makes it to that stage.