I’ve been on the ‘net a lot longer than you.
Well, that won’t apply to all readers. This blog is aggregated at Planet Apache, so is likely to cross the feeds of some true veterans. But I’m sure I’ve been online far longer than any of the politicians or journalists who are getting into another frenzy about online porn and ‘protecting’ the children. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of what counts as an ancestor of the modern ‘net, I first accessed a computer remotely in 1983, subscribed from home and saw my first online pics (of sorts) in 1987, and got my first access over a ‘net using today’s protocols in 1990.
And in all that time, I’ve never encountered anything I’d describe with any certainty as porn. The most dodgy material I’ve seen is at the sites of trashy newspapers: specifically the Daily Mail (to which I occasionally follow a link) and Pravda (which I use as a test site when developing internationalisation software like mod_xml2enc). Both of those seem to bombard me with lots of pics of scantily-clad young people, predominantly female.
And violence? I don’t read novels online, though I might indulge in occasional dodgy media. Far and away the most violent content I’ve encountered is music from less politically-correct times, setting words from that ultra-violent text, the Bible. Blessed is he that taketh the children of the heathen, and casts them upon the stone.
So how is this relevant? I think it firmly gives the lie to the myth that you can stumble inadvertently on anything nastier than you’d see in your local newsagent or bookshop. If you want porn, you have to seek it out proactively. And if you seek proactively I expect you’ll find it, regardless of anything idiot politicians do to try and stop you.
We already have the censor blocking a widening range of contents. Now apparently we’re to have a whole new raft of Big Brother legislation. So as a very minor protest, I just googled for contents that will become explicitly illegal. Tizian’s Rape of Lucretia looks pretty unambiguous: it’s not merely a representation of rape (enough to make it illegal), but true, violent rape!
In fact, I think today’s news just prompted me to seek out the nastiest image I’ve seen in 30 years online. The further they go in the direction of book-burning and aggressive censorship, the more I shall feel inclined to opt out. I certainly won’t accept filtering of my ‘net contents while I have any choice, and if choosing Shakespeare over Bowdler puts me under suspicion from Big Brother then so be it.
I have no interest in porn (and 30 years to prove it), but now legislating to make it ‘impossible’ introduces an element of interest. How might I go about finding it? A search for “Rape of Lucrece” finds the soon-to-be illegal image here, but what search term might find something more modern? Maybe I can get a handle on some search terms by looking at the spam appearing on – and more usefully being filtered from – this blog. Here’s a sample, though those particular search terms are probably long-since outdated. I’ll leave the details as an exercise for the reader, but if you start a blog at WordPress.com you’ll have access to an akismet log containing lots of clues, likely to be more current than any stupid block-list.
 Unless our governments were to do something genuinely useful and take serious action against spam.
 At least, logically speaking. I expect they’ll find a loophole for anything that can get itself classified as art.