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Internet Critic: Clean up Gonzo Porn

Tooele City, Utah – posted on tooeletranscript.com: We got trouble, folks, right here in Tooele City. Trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for porn.

That was the message Matthew Yarro brought to the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday morning. The pornography foe spoke on behalf of CP80, a non-profit lobbying organization that promotes technology and policy solutions to the trouble of online pornography.

“Porn is as addictive as any substance out there … [Children] start hard-wiring themselves to these images,” Yarro told about 20 business people in attendance. “When they respond to this hard [pornographic] stuff, they’re ruined and they will take years in therapy rewiring themselves.”

Later in the meeting, Yarro added,

“[Porn] will make it difficult for [children] to have normal sexual relations when they’re older. It really will,” he said. “Porn is very dangerous stuff.”

Yarro said “the Internet is broken, let’s fix it,” and said families and businesses are turning away from the Internet because pornography is so difficult to avoid.

“At [Brigham Young University], they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to stop the kids from surfing pornography,” Yarro said. “And they still can’t stop them.”

Pornography has evolved in the Internet age, he said, to a more dangerous brand of sexual exploitation.

“Playboy Magazine: That’s what comes to mind when people hear the word porn,” he said. “[But] way over on the extreme side you have gonzo porn.”

Yarro spared his audience the details of what makes gonzo pornography so “extreme.” The online lexicon resource, UrbanDictionary.com, says “gonzo porn took the storyline out of adult movies and headed straight for sex” and was “pioneered in the 1990s.”

He said many sites rely on trickery and receive advertising revenue by preying on Internet users’ simple mistakes. For several years, the domain name whitehouse.com was a pornographic Web site. Likely intending to go to the official Web site of the president & whitehouse.gov & users frequently typed .com and were directed to one of the Internet’s busiest porn sites.

“They’re tricked. The next thing you know they’re addicted,” Yarro said of children. “It only takes four exposures for your body to respond to it … It’s really a severe problem.”

He said most attempts to solve the problem have been scuttled by First Amendment decisions made by the Supreme Court. Not mentioned by Yarro, the pornography industry advocacy group Free Speech Coalition is suing the state of Utah for its business arrangement with a CP80 competitor, Unspam Inc.

Unspam maintains an online registry of children’s e-mail addresses that purports to stop pornography solicitors from sending advertisements to kids. Utah charges mass e-mailers to scrub their list of recipients to ensure that unsuitable e-mail is not sent to kids. Felony charges and seizure of computer systems also punish those who break the laws.

The Free Speech Coalition charges that the system violates freedom of speech and interstate commerce. Critics of the Utah law and Unspam’s system & which is also used in Michigan & say the system is merely a way to collect a tax-like payment from businesses for mass e-mails they send.

Unspam collects $4 for each 1,000 messages that companies want to send. The state of Utah collects $1. Companies represented by the Association of National Advertisers, including Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, and even OshKosh B’Gosh, Inc., have supported the porn industry’s lawsuit against Utah.

Yarro said that CP80’s strategy for cleaning up the Internet is completely different from anything that has been tried before, either technologically or politically. It also takes a more holistic view of Internet content. Unspam concerns itself solely with inappropriate spam e-mail, leaving Internet users to make the whitehouse.com error without any protection from the pornography contained there. Yarro wants all pornographic material separated from the rest of the Internet.

He said the Internet ought to be arranged in channels not unlike cable television. That way, families and businesses could simply request to not receive the pornography channel the same way they do with television.

“All we’re doing with CP80 is categorizing it,” he said. “Let’s put them on a designated channel. The technology exists today to do this.”

CP80 would require pornographic content to come into user’s computer through a specific “port” and certainly the technology exists today as Yarro insisted. Despite Yarro’s claim that the CP80’s solution is unique, there are similar systems that exist. Content filters that rely on firewalls, though technically very different, rely on the same concept. General content goes through the firewall or port, and pornographic material is blocked.

CP80’s Web site say their system is not “a content filter” but Yarro’s presentation made it unclear who would organize the pornography onto the separate channel. Would there be a censorship team that decides?

This conundrum has made Internet filtering difficult and also made the Supreme Court weary of permitting overly broad Internet censorship. Where magazine racks and cable television have several hundred titles and channels to be organized as either porn or not porn, the Internet has millions of addresses and there are thousands of new sites added or renamed daily. Whether pornography is blocked by a firewall or simply not received on a designated port, it seems there needs to be someone, somewhere who enforces the rules and judges what is and what is not pornographic.

Or would the porn industry be trusted to organize itself onto a separate channel?

Yarro said laws need to be created to empower consumers to sue pornographers who inappropriately serve porn on the non-porn channels. He said CP80’s solutions would allow users to look up the owner of a pornographic Web site and take legal action against them if they are found violating laws. This technology already exists as well, and is hosted by numerous “Who is” Web sites.

Despite the difficulties, legal woes and the crushing burden of millions of pornographic images on the Web, Yarro seemed determined to do something.

“We’re about to raise an entire generation on it [pornography],” Yarro said.

Displaying just how difficult the task is, Yarro handed out a one-sheet pamphlet titled “Three things you need to know about Internet Porn!” The list contained what seems to be a curious paradox.

“Internet pornography is addictive,” the first item on the list reads. Number two says, “There are NO solutions to Internet pornography.” Without any more explanation it continues to number 3, “CP80 can solve the Internet pornography problem.”

CP80 promises to solve a problem that, by their own intriguing admission, has no solution. Oh yes, we got lots and lots of Trouble.

 

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