• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 5:33am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 2:26am

Internet pornography crying out for tougher regulations

We are putting our children through a vast social experiment, the outcomes of which we have absolutely no idea. We are raising the first generation in history to be exposed to the most extreme hardcore pornography from a prepubescent age. Thanks to the internet, all manner of sexuality is now on full, uncensored display, at our fingertips, 24/7. That at least is the case if you and your family live in places where curbs on online porn are minimal or non-existent.

A survey in the US finds that the average age at which boys first see porn has dropped to 101/2. Some democratic countries are proposing to ban online porn, most notably India and Iceland. Liberal Iceland has already outlawed strip joints and the hiring of prostitutes. Now, it wants to ban online porn, at least the more extreme varieties. Meanwhile, a legal debate is raging in India to ban porn distribution after a series of rapes and murders.

Such proposals may be extreme but they are not completely indefensible. As a multibillion-dollar industry, the production of porn is dominated by a handful of democratic countries - the US, Japan and Germany. So its restrictions and censorship are often framed in terms of free speech. But an increasing number of social scientists, policymakers and feminists are proposing to look at porn as a public health issue. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that porn addiction is like other physical addictions, and that it affects behaviour in comparable ways. Of course, it is difficult to predict how porn affects some people but not others. But it's the same with drugs, alcohol and gambling. We still see fit to ban or restrict their availability.

The internet has transformed the world, just as porn has transformed the internet. Indeed, it's been pointed out that many online innovations such as payment subscriptions, video streaming, zip files and e-commerce in general were popularised, if not invented, by the porn industry. We have come to live in a pornographic world - in mainstream fashion, commercials and movies; with sex acts that were once rare but have become not only acceptable but expected in the bedroom. Porn is pervasive like junk food. If we can regulate transfat and sugar contents, porn cries out for tougher regulations.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Sex acts seen by children had a history as old as the Stone Age, I an sure. Civilizing humanity has turned sex to become issues of concern from childcare to adult addiction. Sure what is acceptable social behavior must take precedence, we mustn’t lose sight what we really have been since few thousands years ago. So relax and not be dogmatic about pornography in general.
Well said johnyuan
We need to make a distinction in this discussion. There is a big difference between protecting children from ****, who preferably should not see it at all indeed, and 'protecting' adults from ****, because it may be addictive or lead to undesirable behaviour.

I'd be in favour of the first, and I guess that is uncontroversial. But is government regulation effective? I'd say parents should begin by installing a filter that prevents kids from accessing adult content. Then of course, they may still gain access through public WiFi or mobile data connections. So true, if it isn't already, we should regulate those and restrict adult content. Block it on 3G/LTE networks for instance, unless a user opts-in, and only allow adults to do so of course.

Yet, when it comes to completely banning (online) **** for all adults, because of addictive properties, I am less convinced. There are lots of other things that some people get mentally (as opposed to physical dependence-creating substances like alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs etc) addicted to. Some get addicted to video games, others even to shopping. Gambling was mentioned already. Yet, we don't ban those. Most we don't even regulate at all.

Also, there is evidence that the knife cuts both ways: for some, **** (including its more extreme variants), appears to reduce the need/desire to actually do such 'things.' Especially wgt rape in India, banning **** is sadly not a guaranteed way of lowering violence against women.
So the government has an issue with adults viewing hardcore pornography online, and yet turns a blind eye to the hostess bars in Kowloon and Lockhart Road in Wan Chai where women and a handful of 'men' actively sell their bodies? Hypocrites.
Pornography is already tightly regulated in Hong Kong. Hardcore pornography is technically already illegal in HK. HK's pornography regulations are far stricter than Iceland and the UK's already.

Yet hardcore pornography is still freely available online in Hong Kong since the servers that host that stuff are in liberal European countries and the United States / Canada. So it is completely pointless to regulate it unless the plan is to setup some sort of firewall around Hong Kong and then setup a central blacklist. I suspect this'll be EXTREMELY unpopular with the general public if it's ever seriously attempted (It actually was a matter of consultation during the colonial government, and was quickly shelved).


SCMP.com Account