Jerry Barnett Goes On Air to Argue Against U.K. Regulation

Rhett Pardon

LONDON — Monday morning was a busy one for Jerry Barnett, the former online adult operator who now is pushing an anti-censorship campaign in the U.K. called "Sex & Censorship."

Barnett participated in 13 TV and radio interviews yesterday countering new initiatives by the British government to regulate adult content in the U.K.

Barnett is a long-time adult industry advocate who was forced to give up two of his blue-chip sites, Anywhere.XXX and, after U.K. regulators served papers last year  that gave him a strict schedule to comply with new age-verification rules.

Monday's interviews with Barnett on a number of BBC radio and TV channels, as well as others, came the same day Prime Minister David Cameron discussed two major issues resulting from an unregulated Internet: the exploitation and abuse of children through child pornography and their premature exposure to porn.   

"Cameron announced three things: one was important and two were just smokescreens," Barnett told XBIZ on Tuesday.

Barnett said Cameron's "meaningless" announcements involved asking Google to block child porn search terms and making possession of rape porn illegal.

As for blocking child porn search terms, Barnett said that it is "BS because Google of course already has procedures to deal with this stuff, and [searches] don't return known child abuse imagery in its searches."

"The possession of rape porn extends a 2008 law that criminalizes the possession of extreme porn," he said.  "It's a terrible law as it puts the onus on the consumer to know what content is or is not illegal."

The real substance in Cameron's speech "was forcing ISPs to make all their customers choose whether to filter out adult material," Barnett said.

"This is done in the name of child protection," he said. "The filter is a terrible policy because: (1) it puts a block on the whole home rather than individual devices, assuming that parents should never watch porn; (2) it will be easy to work around, so tech-savvie teens will watch porn anyway; (3) it gives parents a false sense of security; (4) many people won't switch off the filter out of embarrassment; (5) many adults who want to watch porn won't be able to, because somebody else operates the ISP agreement (think husbands/wives, house sharers, grown up kids living with parents); and (6) filters always encompass more than just porn."

As for the last tenet, Barnett said that there are many examples in other scenarios of porn filters growing to cover sex education — "LGBT sites, erotic art, sex discussion groups and even political sites that deal with sexual issues."

Barnett, who is writing a book called "Porn Panic!", has called for support of his anti-censorship movement initiative and has created a Facebook page and is active on Twitter. A mailing list signup is available here.