Iceland mulls online porn ban

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Iceland is considering a ban on internet pornography, in a move that would make it the first western democracy to do so.

Under the terms of a pproposed bill, internet filters would be used in a similar manner to the Great Firewall of China, and it would become illegal to use a credit card issued in the country to access porn sites.

"At the moment, we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this," an advisor to Jonasson told reporters. "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

While Iceland is generally an extremely liberal country, printing and distributing porn is already illegal.

The draft legislation is the work of Ögmundur Jonasson, Iceland's interior minister, who argues that it encourages violence against women and causes damage to children who come across it accidentally. It's not sex that's the problem, say the bill's supporters, rather the violence and objectification of women that so often goes with it.

"We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech," Halla Gunnarsdóttir of the Interior Ministry told the Guardian.

"Research shows that the average age of children who see online porn is 11 in Iceland and we are concerned about that and about the increasingly violent nature of what they are exposed to. This is concern coming to us from professionals since mainstream porn has become very brutal."

The bill faces opposition, both on the grounds that it would be difficult to implement, and because it could lead to further state interference. And with an election due later this spring, it could end up being dropped altogether.