opinion

Shutting the Door

Stephen Yagielowicz
I’ve previously discussed the issue of blocking adult website access at the country-level, usually in the context of one country attempting to impose controls on its citizen’s access to this material: for example, Germany wanting to block all foreign adult sites that did not use an Age Verification System as outlined in German law; or if the U.S. wanted to block all foreign sites that were not ‘2257 compliant.

Usually these blocking scenarios are met with scoffs of “it’ll never work!” – And if you mean “100%” then no, blocking won’t work – but if you mean “we can easily cut access to foreign adult websites by over 90 percent” – then yes, it will work, and easily, too.

I typically offer Singapore as an example of a country that for years has blocked access to adult websites; but today I have another example for you: South Korea.

XBIZ News has reported on a new initiative from the South Korean government barring access to foreign adult websites.

South Korea will not, however, block access to South Korean adult websites.

According to a report in The Korea Times, a statement from the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication read in part “We believe that the measure will be quite effective in dealing with obscene materials in cyberspace as we found most Internet users obtain such content from foreign pornographic sites and upload them on local portals.”

When looked at more closely, this to me is an indication of how an increasing number of countries are viewing “problems” on the Internet as a “foreign” issue, that much like the issue of illegal immigration, can be solved by building a fence (however imperfect) and by simultaneously enforcing relevant domestic laws. It’ll be interesting to watch for a drop-off in Korean traffic as an indication of this program’s effectiveness.

As a side note for folks that will wonder how they could possibly know which sites to block; you have to ask yourself a simple question: “are you keeping your site a secret?” The answer should be “no” – in fact, you’ve likely told Google and every other search engine you can find about it, plus you’ve spammed your link everywhere else you could – making your site nothing more than another easy entry in a government database.

I’ll predict now that by the end of the decade it’ll be more commonplace than not to see countries picking the sites they’ll choose to allow their citizen’s access to. It’s easy to do, and only problematic for Americans; since we enjoy First Amendment protections of our freedom of speech – something that the rest of the world simply doesn’t have.

For serious operators, watching these trends on the global market and implementing means to mitigate any disruptions in traffic and revenues any fluctuations may cause is something to be taken seriously.