Can we trust the state to censor porn?

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The most sweeping censorship is always the most objectionable. In principle, however, there is nothing wrong with David Cameron’s sweeping proposal that the customers of internet service providers must prove that they are 18 or over before they can watch online pornography. The rule for liberal democracies is (or ought to be) that consenting adults are free to watch, read and listen to what they want. It stops child pornography – because by definition children are not consenting adults – and it could stop children accessing pornographic sites. Children are no more able to give informed consent to watching pornography than they are to appearing in it – if ‘appear’ is not too weak a verb to describe the rape and abuse of children on camera. If the law stops them walking into a shop and legally buying pornographic magazines, it can stop (or attempt to stop) them watching pornography online.

Carry on reading

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