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EU porn ban: ‘Censorship disguised by noble idea’

The European Parliament is set to vote on a report that calls for a ban on pornography in the mass media. While its authors say the aim is eliminating gender stereotypes that debase women, critics argue the initiative puts freedom of speech on thin ice.

Fabio Reinhardt, representative of the Pirate Party in the Berlin Parliament, told RT that the initiative threatens freedom of speech as politicians look for new ways to control the Internet.

“It is a very noble undertaking – and I think this is one of the most important problems that we face – to erase gender stereotypes, especially in commercials and merchandising,” he said. “We have a rise in the numbers of gender stereotypes, and I think it is very important that politics is underway to undertake something there – but I think this is more than just that.”

Reinhardt argues that state censorship of pornography could set a dangerous precedent.

“It is a plan that could lead to a very harmful way of damaging the Internet in the long run,” he told RT.

The approval of the report, called “Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU,” would not be legally binding, but it could become the first step towards legislation.

Speaking of the report, Reinhardt said “It is shaping the position of the EU for the [coming] years throughout the Internet, and I think it is very important to defend Internet freedom and citizens' rights on every step of the legislature process in Brussels and Strasbourg.”

If the MEPs vote in favor of the proposal, many fear it could be used to justify other censorship measures.

“I think it is very important we take a firm step and say that we do not want to have any Internet censorship – even if the idea behind it is a very noble idea,” Reinhardt said.

A ban on pornography had previously been discussed in Iceland, where it was allegedly aimed at protecting children from online threats. Now, the trend has spread to the EU.

“There are a lot of countries that are discussing or are censoring the Internet one way or the other, and all of this is taking place under the pretext of acting against pornography or acting against child pornography,” Reinhardt explained. “There are several countries in Europe doing this right now, and usually this is done behind the back door or something – so most of the time citizens don’t realize what is going on.”

Reinhardt speculated that the reason politicians are increasingly eyeing the Internet is because they are terrified by its power.

“I think they are somehow threatened by the Internet,” Reinhardt said. “I think it is very easy to control TV and some other channels, but it is very difficult to control what is going on on the Internet. It is a very new medium. People are discussing very freely and I think politicians on all levels are trying to find out if there are new and different ways to control what is going on on the Internet and control the public and free opinion there.”

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