One thing which has seemingly gone a little quiet has been concern about the Online Safety Bill.
A big reason for this is it’s slow movement through parliament (and it’s own delays) but also a little bit naivety.
Before Christmas it seeked to pass the report stage, but was sent back for amendments.
It now seeks to pass the report stage on January 16th
On it’s return, many of the amendments were around a lot of the “legal but harmful” elements. Effectively aiming more for curation than removing otherwise legal content.
There may be more complications (and delays) as Labour feel it has been weakened too much but the only optimism this offers is further delays.
Some within the Adult Industry took the relaxation around “Legal but harmful” as a sign of relief. Some they felt their content would fall under this and, sure, yep allowing people to curate to not see it, most wouldn’t feel this was a bad thing.
However. What a lot of people have failed to notice is a clause that was added, and is still there.
Under Priority Offences – causing or inciting prostitution for gain, controlling prostitution for gain – are still there in the latest bill.
As one of the priority offences that tech companies have to look out for – firms then are obliged to remove any content from their platforms that could be construed as committing this offence. Controlling prostitution for gain is interpreted very widely in the criminal courts. The ECP report that some women have been prosecuted under this offence just for helping a friend build a website or place an advert. More from ECP and their concerns here
Despite the ostensibly sensible nature of the amendment, which aims to eliminate sex trafficking from the online world, it is likely to have adverse effects on the safety of consenting sex workers. This is because companies aiming to avoid fines are under immense pressure to introduce measures in line with these regulations, such as the removal of any sex work advertising, ultimately leading to the exclusion of sex workers from online platforms.
The evidence to suggest this legislative move is dangerous to sex workers is not only anecdotal; one only needs to look at the impact of FOSTA/SESTA in the US which, like the Online Safety Bill, had similar anti sex trafficking aims. (More info here)
A lot of people in the adult industry sometimes try to distance themselves from “prostitution” but while people may attempt to distance on a personal level, it does not stop how they would be treat by platforms or law enforcement.
Equally. While you might be a producer, studio owner, “content creator” or however you wish to frame things; there are still others who you would ‘collab’ with or work with who are definitely affected. For example if they do any form of in-person sex work.
Certainly a lot of things like “Porn Star Parties”, “Creator Days/Weekends”, and any premise which advertises it can be hired for shoots or sessions would be under the spotlight as much as those doing in-person sessions.
To suggest otherwise is simply naivety.
The big question, of course, is what can we do about this
Strength is always better in numbers. So there are collectives who have been challenging and fighting this and will be offering advice and support when it inevitably is passed into law.
Companies worth joining include