NEWS: Egypt Ban Internet Porn
By Ohh My... / News / 0 comments

The sun may be setting on internet porn in Egypt. Amid widespread unrest and often violent demonstrations around Egypt and the ‘Arab Spring’, an unidentified Egyptian Judge has reiterated the decision passed as law in 2009 banning pornography. All pornography on the internet has been declared illegal.

In 2009, Egypt passed the law that made pornography illegal but the law was never enforced. The implications of the law are widespread and not confined to Egypt alone. The committee that will be charged with drafting and implementing the law is aiming for a total ban. ‘The issue is becoming persistent and worrying to families,’ said Mohammed Salem, the Minister  of Telecommunications and IT. By families, presumably he means him and his friends. The ultra-conservative religious minister, al-Nour Salafist has already revealed that some software companies are ready to release filtering software and legislation to punish internet companies that allow access to porn sites is also on the table. They’re talking big but, as we’ve all been told, it’s not the size that matters…

They may be talking the talk and being all macho and bravado but, on the face of it, the decision looks like something that’s utterly impossible to enforce. The amount of expenditure that would have to be ploughed into making it something that people took any notice of would be vast and, quite frankly, I think the Egyptian government and police forces have a host of better things to be doing with their time and money. It’s reminiscent of the Prohibition laws in 1920s America that were ignored all over the country and did very little other than give organised crime a foothold in society. There are, however, some parallels to this decision. The viewing and possession of child pornography, for example, is illegal in the West and relies on similar processes, says Paul Shea on the ValueWalk.com website: ‘That system heavily relies on international compromise and agreement in hunting down those that supply the offensive images. Egypt will have no such support in a monolithic pornography ban.’

The motivation for the ban appears to be coming from Dr. Younis Makhioun, a leading lawmaker in Egypt, who, according to Athima Chansanchai on MSNBC’s Technolog blog ‘targeted porn sites as the gateway drug to all kinds of societal problems, including divorce and rape’, not that he has given any supporting evidence for his claims. Backed by Egypt’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, it was Mackhioum who pushed for the internet porn ban, though as yet there have been no announcements as to what is considered pornography so the ban is still somewhat ephemeral and insubstantial. It has also been reported that the Egyptian Parliament supports the ruling.

Though this is undoubtedly the herald of some more turbulent times in Egypt, what does this mean for the rest of us who like to enjoy our pornography without the stress of breaking the law? Well, it’s likely that any country-wide filtering system in Egypt will target the new .xxx domains. Back when the .xxx domain was proposed, AVN and other groups warned that it would open up the possibility that producers of explicit material would be mandated to share only through a .xxx domain, which is the first step down a slippery slope to seeing such material marginalised on the internet. If Egypt succeed in banning and filtering out the porn in .xxx domains, it’s an indicator to the rest of the world that it can be done, which may be bad news for the rest of us.

It goes without saying that a lot of Egyptians don’t share this view of sexually explicit material being the root of all evil. Egyptian student Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a celebrated blogger and atheist, challenged the statement almost immediately by posting nude pictures of herself on the internet, which led to the publication of the nude calendar of various revolutionaries. You can find a link to it here, in case you’re willing to purchase.

 

What do you think of Egypt’s decision to clamp down on porn? Another floppy law or the beginning of the end?

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