Brian Ribbon writes: "The Times reports claims made by government officials and security services, regarding an alleged correlation between the use of indecent images and terrorist activity. According to the article, "secret coded messages are being embedded into child pornographic images, and paedophile websites are being exploited as a secure way of passing information between terrorists" and "it is not clear whether the terrorists were more interested in the material for personal gratification or were drawn to child porn networks as a secure means of sending messages." The correlation is likely to be false; under UK law, nude photographs of all minors — including those who are over the age of consent — are illegal, so it's not surprising that many people (including terrorists) are found to have illegal material when their computers are searched. In reality, this story is probably just a poor attempt to justify the government's proposed big brother database."
Brian Ribbon writes: "A man in the United Kingdom has been convicted of taking indecent photographs of children after photographing underage girls dressed as fairies. The photographs were taken with the permission of both the children and the parents — the latter also being present at the photoshoot — however the images depicted the girls without their breasts covered, meaning that they fell under the definition of the lowest level of child pornography; "images depicting erotic posing [or nudity] with no sexual activity". The sentencing judge was unhappy about the conviction, stating "what is clear is that [the photographer] had no base motive, no sexual motive and there was not any question of deriving sexual gratification from what [he was] doing", and so handed out a community sentence rather than the recommended two years' custody. Could it be the case that laws against indecency are designed to prosecute deviants and not to protect the public?"
Brian Ribbon writes: "The English Ministry of Justice has todayannounced that it will criminalise "all images of child sexual abuse, including drawings and computer-generated images". A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice justified the decision by claiming that "paedophiles could be circumventing the law by using computer technology to manipulate real photographs or videos of abuse into drawings or cartoons", however it is already illegal to do this or to possess any image derived from an indecent photograph of a child, under Section 69 of the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. It is presently illegal to distribute any obscene publication, so the proposed new law will actually target only the possession of virtual child pornography for which no real child has ever been abused."
Brian Ribbon writes: "In the latest sensationalist article about paedophiles on the internet, the director of a Spanish vigilante organisation has claimed that the internet "creates paedophiles". While conflating paedophilia with child sexual abuse, the "expert" quoted in the article incorrectly states that "studies show that some paedophiles feel attracted to children from an early age, but the majority of them develop the tendency later on"; he then claims that "the internet can become a catalyst for people belonging to the latter group"."
Brian Ribbon writes: "During the Queen's speech, it was today announced that the "Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill" intends to criminalise the mere possession of "extreme" or "violent" adult pornography. Many flawed and deceitful arguments (often used to justify the criminalisation of the possession of child porn) have been used, including claims that the possessor will somehow "harm" the victim every time the image is viewed, and the unproven belief that the possessor will be "corrupted" by the images and will then act out his fantasies. The "evidence" (pdf) used to justify this aim of the bill came from a study solicited by the Ministry of Justice, conducted by feminist activists. Will the British government ever cease to use pseudo-science in order to invade the private lives of its citizens?"
Brian Ribbon writes: "Radio Netherlands is reporting that the EU is planning to force all of its members to criminalise the viewing of child pornography on the internet. While many people will consider this to be a necessary measure to protect the children, it fails to consider the fact that the downloading of material — without payment — does not encourage those who produce such material, rather it simply offends the public. The production of child pornography is currently the only crime which can't be observed; even watching a video of a murder is legal, yet the EU are demanding even stricter forms of censorship of sexual material. Is such censorship justified, or is it a symptom of a moral panic?"
Brian Ribbon writes: "The British government has announced that it will soon be illegal to possess nude child art, which includes drawings, sculptures and computer generated images depicting nude children. While it is difficult to deny that some people will support this new law, should we really believe that this is about protecting children, or is it simply another example of popularist politics from a government official who desperately needs to improve his public image?"
Brian Ribbon writes: "The BBC has a report regarding a study into child welfare by international charity Unicef, which reveals that the US and UK have the lowest levels of child welfare out of 21 countries studied. The study measured child welfare using six categories; family and peer relationships, material well-being, health and safety, behaviour and risks, and children's own sense of well-being (educational and subjective).
Is it a coincidence that the countries which have the most draconian legislation disguised as measures to protect children also have the lowest level of child welfare, or is the level of paranoia and hysteria in these countries actually harming children?"
Brian Ribbon writes: "The Daily Mail is reporting that Police in the UK will be given unlimited access to the homes of convicted sex offenders. They claim that these powers will allow them to prevent future acts of child molestation, but are they correct in their assumption that most sex offenders — paedophiles or otherwise — are child molesters? Could the government simply be testing new powers against a group which is frequently used as a scapegoat?"