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Pornography has been saved in Europe!

Last updated on: March 14, 2013 17:57 IST

Pornography has been saved in Europe!

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Earlier this week, it was announced that the European union will put up for vote an innocuous sounding report on eliminating gender stereotypes containing a number of proposals to improve gender equality within EU member states.

Had it not been for the watchful eyes of civil liberty activists, one dreadful proposal could have spelled doom for the entire Europe -- at least European countries part of the European Union.

Embedded under Article 17 of the report was a clause that, if eventually made into law, would effectively ban pornography across all types of media, including the Internet, in Europe.

On Tuesday, 625 members of the European Parliament voted 368-159 in favour of passing the report with 98 abstaining. However, the controversial 'porn ban' section of the proposal was rejected.

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The porn-blocking proposals were introduced by Dutch Member of the European Parliament for the Socialist Party Kartika Tamara Liotard.

The proposals were buried within the main report, which was first submitted to the Parliament in early December. Libertarian Swedish MEPs from the Pirate Party spotted the call for a ban in the bill's small print.

Even though the report aimed to close the gender inequality gap in the region by developing awareness and effective measures to reduce the prevalence of gender stereotypes in education, employment, and the media, controversy quickly stirred over the porn ban clause.

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The report included such wide-ranging and ill-defined measures as calling on the European Union to reaffirm its position on an earlier resolution for a "ban on all forms of pornography in the media," as well as giving Internet service providers "policing rights" over their subscribers.

According to CNet.com, amendments to the report removed certain explanatory text, but not the references to the previous resolution that was passed by the Parliament, which called for a blanket ban on pornography in the region in 1997.

Rick Falkvinge, MEP for the Swedish Pirate Party which campaigns for internet freedom, explained that a "split vote" was called on to delete the sentence -- "which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media" -- but in spite of this, the 1997 resolution remains referenced, and therefore the call to ban "all forms of pornography in the media" remains intact.

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Fabio Reinhardt, representative of the Pirate Party in the Berlin Parliament, told RT.com that state censorship of pornography could set a dangerous precedent.

"There are a lot of countries that are discussing or are censoring the Internet one way or the other, and all of this is taking place under the pretext of acting against pornography or acting against child pornography," Reinhardt explained. "There are several countries in Europe doing this right now, and usually this is done behind the back door or something – so most of the time citizens don't realize what is going on."

Reinhardt speculated that the reason politicians are increasingly eyeing the Internet is because they are terrified by its power.

"I think they are somehow threatened by the Internet," Reinhardt said, adding "I think it is very easy to control TV and some other channels, but it is very difficult to control what is going on the Internet. It is a very new medium. People are discussing very freely and I think politicians on all levels are trying to find out if there are new and different ways to control what is going on the Internet and control the public and free opinion there."


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