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Pop goes the porn

In the latest of its moves to impose a nanny state, the Philippine government ordered last Saturday the shutdown of several pornographic websites, citing a particular law that might not have been used in proper context.

National Telecommunications Commission Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios informed CNN they had “ordered all the country’s top (ISPs) to block access to adult sites,” said UK’s The Daily Mail online.

Netizens using certain Philippine internet service providers to visit Pornhub, XVideos, and Redtube using mobile phones, PCs, and laptops were greeted by this message: “This website has been ordered blocked under authority of the Philippine government pursuant to Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Law.”   

In line with this, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said last Sunday, “these porn sites should really be banned because they are being used by pedophiles and other people who subscribe to child pornography sites.”

Pornhub might have been hoist by its own petard after it released data on global porn usage that showed that visitors from the Philippines, for the third year running, spent the most time at the site for an average of 12 minutes 45 seconds in 2016, followed by South Africa at 10 minutes 46 seconds. The ban by the Philippines was said to have come 10 days after the survey results were shared.

Pornhub has stated that they do not share child pornography on their site. Said their vice president, Corey Price, on MailOnline: “It’s disappointing that Pornhub was blocked as it will just drive people to use less vetted, riskier, smaller websites. We’re open to working with government officials to meet their standards in the Philippines.”

No information has as yet been released or discovered regarding what other websites are blocked, how many ISPs have complied with the NTC order, and what other porn sites might be blocked later on.

It looks like the Duterte administration is flexing its powers as it exerts control over certain societal phenomena in line with the personal beliefs of its leaders. 

Child porn is indeed a vicious crime that should be classified a crime against humanity.

But Pornhub, for one, has stated they do not carry it. Child porn is also banned by the US, where many other adult websites are based, and producing and airing such material carries extremely stiff penalties. It’s highly unlikely that legitimate sites would violate the law in that regard, because their business would be shut down and their operators slammed in jail. It would be illogical and impractical and downright stupid of them to do so.

RA 9775 is not the proper law to cite for the ban. The law primarily provides protections for children and strictly forbids their involvement in the production of porn videos. Nowhere in this law is the issue of adult porn addressed.

Now, if this law were to be properly implemented in this instance, the question is, what criteria is the Duterte administration using to find out if an adult site has child porn? Because it banned a non-child porn site, it shows that it has no guidelines, only another random scorched-earth policy like Operation Tokhang, which has illegally taken the lives of an estimated 6,000 suspected drug users and dealers, and innocent bystanders.

As Andanar was also quoted as having said, “We don’t want our youth and even the adults to be addicted to lewd videos shown in [sic] the internet.” That’s a sweeping statement that encompasses all adult videos, not just those containing child pornography. Does he have statistics on this alleged porn addiction?

His other statement, “because they are being used by pedophiles and other people who subscribe to child pornography sites,” does not make sense because he has not shown that child pornographers are uploading child porn to Pornhub and other banned sites; although these pedophiles could be users of the site as viewers, certainly, because these sites are open to all.

Studies on the effects of pornography show “potential influences on rape, domestic violence, sexual dysfunction, difficulties with sexual relationships, and child sexual abuse,” with viewers of extreme porn perhaps becoming tolerant to such images, according to an internet source. On the other hand, other studies find that the liberalization of porn in society could be associated with lower rape and sexual violence rates. However, “there is no evidence that visual images and films are addictive.”

Before those in the Palace ordered the block, did they think this through? There’s a dictatorial smell in the air, and this seems just one of the ways the leaderati are testing how far they can go in asserting their will on the people.

Personally, I would like to see a restriction on the viewing age of porn. Minors should not have access to it before the age of 18, like cigarettes and alcohol. By then, they should have been educated enough about it and can approach it with a critical mind.

However, adult sites are, as the job description goes, for adults. Why treat them like children? Because they suppress some freedoms, nanny states tend to stifle creativity and innovation. Is this the right direction to take, in this automated age where it is the knowledge worker who will survive?

In other words—this edict does not make sense. It’s again an arbitrary imposition of a particular person, or group’s, beliefs and values on the rest of the population. It’s a curtailment of the freedom to obtain information.

What’s next? Banning books? What are we coming to?

Dr. Ortuoste is a California-based writer. Follow her on Facebook:  Jenny Ortuoste, Twitter: @jennyortuoste, Instagram: @jensdecember

Topics: Jenny Ortuoste , Pop goes the porn , pornographic websites , National Telecommunications Commission , Anti-Child Pornography Law , Pornhub , XVideos , Redtube
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