Cyber-porn is uncontrollable warn Internet experts

Government attempts to get tough on cyber-porn have been slammed as ineffectual by Internet experts.

Words: Peter Ross

INTERNET EXPERTS HAVE labelled Government plans to crack down on cyber-porn as unnecessary and impossible to implement.

As the new PreSident of the 68 nations, Britain is leading the fight against international computer crime Ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United States and Britain wepresented by the Home SeCretary Jack Straw -- are tackling crime organisations which use computer technologies for Illegal actiVIties including the distribution of paedOphile images. The next G8 Summit takes place in Birmingham this May, With substantial progress expected by then.

But a legal issues and cyberspace expert fears that the Government could use G8 to Justify Internet censorship. Yaman Akdeniz, head of free-speech group Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties said: ’The issue of cyber-crime is exaggerated. The Internet reflects the real world - it is not all pink. But because of the moral panic behind these issues, governments feel like they have to do something about it.’

He added 'The Internet has a bad reputation. Through media reports people believe it is not a place for children or.for anyone. We are all perverts or terrorists or hackers Just because we use this new powerful medium,’

Jack Straw emphasises the importance of international co-operation in tackling computer crime

'Regulation of the Internet is a great

idea. I don't want my kids bumping

into naked bodies and me having to explain why that man’s doing that to

the horse.’ Brian McMillan

which, by its very nature, recognises no national boundaries. He says G8 should move fast when other countries request help.

'Cnminals can transfer or delete eVidence from a database at a touch of a button,’ he said. 'That is why we have to react qwckly when another member

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Hardwired: sites like this one are abundant and largely uncontrolled

state asks us for help in locating and freeZing the information before it is lost.

’Of course, if search and seizure is required, a warrant of some sort Will have to be applied for We therefore need to ensure that arrangements eXist for

obtaining warrants in urgent cases '

A Home Office spokesperson concedes this could mean the seizure of computer eQUipment from homes. Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties fears such strict measures c0uId lead to censorship. Akdeniz argues that regulation for areas of the Internet like paedophilia sites would be difficult

'We are talking about a global medium,’ he said. ’One thing may be obscene in the UK but not in

Denmark. There are even differences in what is child pornography'

Ian Bruce is Conservative MP for Dorset South and Vice-chair of Eurim, a group examining illegal content, He believes Internet SerVice Prowders (ISP) -‘ companies prowding Web space to the public

should 'self-police' content

'Where serwce suppliers have a broad requirement that what they put onto the Internet is decent, they can quickly take something off,’ he said. 'But prosecuting someone would probably take a year, by which time the damage would have been done and whoever was doing it would have disappeared.’

But the head of a leading Scottish ISP foresees practical problems With this. Managing director of Colloquium, Brian McMillan said: 'Regulation is a minefield. How do you enforce it? Who do you hit? We get half a million mail messages a day, There's no way we can Sift through that.’

He adds that although regulation is problematic, it is worthwhile. ’It's a great idea,' he said. ’I don’t want my kids bumping into naked bodies and me having to explain why that man‘s down; that to the horse.’

The List opens the XXX Files in a porn special, see pages 10-17.

And finally . . . order of the boot heads new year’s honours list

TO SACK OR not to sack, that must be the question facing many of our decision-makers as a new year

membership. Not that we want to be paranoid or anything but could this be yet another case of a

’dismissal on the spot shall occur for any player returning from lengthy suspension with much additional flesh and a stupid goatee beard.’

dawns. First up for the chop may be poor old Jack Straw. Having recently taken to blaming the ills of society upon bad parenting, drugs and the connection of the two, how sublimer ironic that he should be brought down a peg or two with newspaper allegations that his son peddled dope to a nasty journalist. This contradiction appears to have escaped the notice of everyone who has been trotted out in the media to offer their heartfelt sympathy. Except. notably, Jack's gaffer. Could Tony Blair be sharpening his axe at this very moment?

OR IS HE saving the first blow for the withering neck of Pat Lally? An unwelcome message in his Christmas postbag was the report of the 'sleaze inquiry' which will recommend that the Lord Provost and five other councillors should receive long-term bans from party

London-based government treating Scotland as a test case for its grander plans (remember the poll tax). Could we be the guinea pigs for a series of cuts of an altogether different kind?

SPARE A MOMENT’S prayer for that very rich man David Murray. The Rangers chairman may be relieved at having the toughest decision of his career made for him by the resignation of manager Walter Smith, but Paul Gascoigne is on hand to provide him with more sleepless nights. Having embarrassed himself and his club within weeks of his arrival by imitating a flute player threats from those at the more sensitive end of the Catholic persuasion forced Gascoigne into stating such an incident would never recur. Yet there he was limbering up at the Old Firm game taking the taunts

Paul Gascoigne: flute in mouth disease

professional players have surely become accustomed to, and out comes his invisible instrument. With the SPA and the police suffering tied-hand syndrome, perhaps Murray should insert a retrospective clause into players’ contracts -

FROM THE MAKERS of the product which gave Monty Python a song and thousands of upper class twits a never unfunny catchphrase, comes the tragic news that closure of a Merseyside factory means the end of British Spam and 140 jobs. No sign of an outcry yet, though it hardly has the romantically revolutionary resonance of the Liverpool dockers, does it? Then again, the question remains - did anyone actually like the vile stuff? AT LEAST GOD'S job should be relatively safe. No doubt 1998's plan is for another year of death, destruction, famine, murder, brutality, crime, evil, menace and mayhem. Still, if one of his mysterious ways of moving had anything to do with the binning of Noel’s House Party, then hats off to you, big fella. (Brian Donaldson)

8—22 Jan 1998 THE LIST37