Who decides what people in Britain can watch on the Internet?

ATVOD is a private company that regulates UK video on demand services. With the support of OFCOM, it is trying to become Britain’s official Internet censor. Although it has a remit over all online video, ATVOD has focused in particular on British pornography producers and restricting consumer access to pornography.

Its activities include:

•    Identifying online video producers and levying fees for their ‘service’ of being regulated
•    Banning some activities from erotic videos even though these activities are legal and safe to perform, including ‘squirting’, ‘face sitting’ and gags in bondage scenes
•    Requiring pornography websites to collect their users’ sensitive and personal data in order to prove that no one under the age of 18 is accessing their content

Backlash opposes these activities because they infringe freedom of sexual expression. It prevents consumers from deciding for themselves what sort of material they wish to access. It censors artists and media producers. It prevents British businesses from competing effectively in a global industry. It threatens the privacy of both porn users and producers.

Backlash is concerned, in particular, with the effect of regulation on small British businesses, especially female-owned and managed porn production companies. These often self-employed producers bring much needed diversity to the pornography industry, and allow women (and others) to establish and control their own workspaces where sexuality can be explored safely.

By contrast, large-scale media companies have the resources to absorb the costs of complying with regulation but do not produce high-quality content for niche audiences, including sexual minorities.

Backlash has advised several small-scale producers on how to deal with ATVOD’s attempts to regulate them. In one important case, Backlash provided funds for a legal challenge that proved ATVOD had acted outside their legitimate regulatory authority by trying to control an online artistic production that uses erotic themes.

Backlash campaigns, at every opportunity, to change the law so that the rights of porn producers and consumers alike are protected.

More information

Myles Jackman, obscenity lawyer, talks to Sky News with producer Charlotte Rose on the ‘face sitting’ protests outside parliament

Our press release on the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell’s legal win against ATVOD

Myles Jackman’s summary of the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell’s case

Myles Jackman writes in the Independent on the sexist nature of many of the porn content restrictions