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It’s probably superstition, but it seems that news stories comes in bunches. Today’s theme is: “governments across the planet try to deal with Internet pornography”:

— The Green-Dam saga continues. China delayed indefinitely the requirement that new computers have an installation of Green Dam-Youth Escort filtering software to protect young people from pornographic and violent Internet content. The big question seems to be: “will the delay be temporary or permanent.” They really should just make the filtering voluntary AFTER they get rid of the political censorship issue and AFTER they resolve the copyright-infringement issues and AFTER they fix the vulnerabilities in it. But I digress.

— The Ukraine has made illegal the possession of pornography except for medicinal purposes. I just don’t know what to say about “medicinal purposes” except that it’s going to generate another category of spam that will probably give a whole new meaning to “Canadian pharmacy.”

— In the U.S., several adult-content web sites appear to be collateral casualties of the take down of the Pricewert ISP by the Federal Trade Commission. Some are reporting the loss of $5,000 per day. Some are scrambling to find their web site content, since the Federal court and FTC confiscated Pricewert’s servers. I guess the lesson here is: don’t do business with businesses that do illegal stuff.

— The Georgia (USA) Bureau of Investigation is warning that an email containing a six-minute child porn video is circulating in the Stone Mountain area. The video may be might be a 2005 clip from the Dominican Republic that has been known to investigators. There are conflicting news reports, but at least one says it’s being spammed by malware. Possession of the video on one’s computer is a felony in the U.S. Investigators are telling Internet users to delete the email on sight (Subject line: “VERY Disturbing! TAKE CARE OF YOUR KIDS/ they should kill this man, do not open if your [sic] sensitive… click video link.” )

Pornography has been a complicated issue since, well, forever. There are paintings in the ruins of Pompeii of “adult” nature that were buried in the year 79. In the quaint 1950s in the very Puritan U.S., there were “nudist” and “art photo” magazines that pushed the legal envelop and “men’s” magazines explored how much of a woman’s anatomy they could show and still stay at least one millimeter away from the legal limit.

In the U.S., porn enthusiasts probably won the battle when courts as high as the U.S. Supreme Court found themselves completely unable to define the difference between pornography and free speech. In 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Steward wrote the legendary articles of surrender, saying that he couldn’t define pornography, but “I know it when I see it.” Shortly after that, the VCR went on sale and it was REALLY “game over” for the anti-porn side.

The result has been a legal shadow world and very lucrative gray economy that turned into a terrific environment for scams, fraud, rogue anti-malware products and thieving computer malcode. Yes, there is a load of pornography out there on the Internet that is perfectly legal, sold by perfectly legal businesses with secure servers. Governments in conservative places will always try to fight it. They will only ever have very limited success. Sex will always be a very shiny lure.

The bottom line: if you see any advertisement on the web or in your email for “adult” anything, it simply will never be truly safe to go there.

Links to stories:

China’s Web ‘Dam’

Yushchenko signs porn law despite widespread opposition

Web-Hosting Firm’s Shutdown Costing Adult Affiliate Operator $5K a Day

GBI: Open This E-Mail, Go Directly to Jail (Possibly)

Tom Kelchner

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