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Internet Porn: Here Today (In China), Gone Tomorrow (In South Africa)

It looks like porn may be back online for Chinese web-surfers. Up until now, China has officially banned internet porn outright, blocking it from its nation’s people via the country’s formidable “Great Firewall.” Now, according to CNN International’s report on a Telegraph blog post by Malcome Moore, these pornographic sites are once again accessible by the Chinese public. But YouTube is still blocked. You can’t win ‘em all.

As for why the porn is unblocked, there is no evidence to support the theory that, well, any theory, really. It’s just there now. Theories offered by Moore include an increased horniness among Chinese males as there are fewer available women, but the main theory to debunk this being a policy change is that it could be a tech failure of China’s so-called Great Firewall.

When sites have gotten through in the past, however the issue was repaired within hours. In this case, the Telegraph reports that the sites have remained unblocked for some time. So either officials have been distracted from their monitors for a while, or there may be some policy change afoot. (Unsurprisingly, nothing has been announced by the Chinese government.) Or maybe there’s just so much porn online now that the Great Firewall can’t contain it all. What a momentous tipping point in human history.

Meanwhile, while China is allowing porn (whether on purpose or by mistake. nobody knows), South Africa is seeking to mimic China’s (former?) policy. But they don’t really seem to have a sense of how to do so practically.

Here’s a quote from the spearheader of the anti-porn movement, Malusi Gigaba, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, courtesy of TechDirt:

“Cars are already provided with brakes and seatbelts… There is no reason why the internet should be provided without the necessary restrictive mechanisms built into it.”

This quote above shows a pretty broad lack of knowledge regarding the Internet in general. Graham Cluley of security firm Sophos put it very clearly when speaking to the BBC News just how impractical this ban would be:

“One wonders how on earth a democracy like South Africa would be able to introduce such a system, as it’s not as though the state has 100% control over telecommunications,” he told BBC News.

“Although their intentions may be honourable, it’s barking mad to think you will be able to completely outlaw pornography from the web which, is after all, the modern equivalent of the wild west.”

The fate of porn in China and South Africa is unknown for now. Hopefully, for their citizens’ sake, both nations end up with freeflowing Internet porn. Banning pornography is, after all, a dick move — and really just one facet of net freedom. As we’ve seen in the past, bans tend to presage political censorship and other agenda-based web-blockage. The Internet should be a place to freely express yourself, even if that entails naked videos. Nay, especially if it does.

(Via BBC News, TechDirt, CNN, and Telegraph, image via Dazzle Ships)

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