Iceland Considers Pornography Ban — Why Not United States?

By:  Dave Bohon
Iceland Considers Pornography Ban — Why Not United States?

Iceland's proposed ban on hard-core Internet pornography has some Americans wondering what's holding up enforcement of a similar U.S. ban.

Another nation is growing tired of the negative effects that hard-core online pornography has on its population. The government of Iceland is considering implementing online filters that would prevent Icelanders from viewing or downloading pornography from the Internet.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland's interior minister, said that the potential dangerous effects of pornography on women and children has prompted him to draft legislation that would block access to some porn via computers, gaming systems, and mobile devices. The measure would include a ban on using credit cards to pay for such material. “We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” Jonasson told the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper.

Iceland already bans the printing and distribution of hard-copy pornography, but thus far online porn has fallen through the cracks of enforcement. Proponents of the legislation said a majority of residents in the small sub-Arctic nation support the crackdown.

“There is a strong consensus building in Iceland,” said Halla Gunnarsdóttir, another Iceland official and political advisor to Jonasson. “We have so many experts from educationalists to the police and those who work with children behind this, that this has become much broader than party politics. At the moment, we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this. But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the Internet.”

While opponents of the move say that it smacks of the same type of control the government in communist China exerts over the Internet, those pushing the law insist it is necessary to protect the nation's vulnerable residents, specifically women and children. Gail Dines, a noted expert on the impact of pornography on society, applauded Iceland's approach, noting that it is the first country in Europe to specifically target hard-core pornography as a step in protecting women and children. “It is looking at pornography from a new position,” she said, “from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights.”

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