Press Release: Political Porns: Brits Face Jail Under Draconian Porn Laws

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Nanny State could get you arrested for private bedroom antics reveals new report

•           A third of adults in the UK fantasise about domination and submission
•           Extreme porn laws blunt tool for enforcing presumed moral values
•           Risk criminalising over half the population rather than catching paedophiles
•           Pornography could actually reduce sexual violence
 
Today, the Adam Smith Institute releases a report urging the government to scrap ineffective extreme pornography laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws - designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs - are so broad as to threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain. 
 
The whole area of obscenity law needs to be redrafted argues the report, starting with the extreme pornography law. The current legislation is so sweeping as to allow those who receive unsolicited images on Whatsapp groups to be charged with possession of extreme pornographic images, with one attempted prosecution for bestiality in Wales involving a video of a badly photo shopped tiger superimposed over a man's body, delivering the line “That’s grrrreat!” to the camera.
 
A survey* of 19,000 adults in the UK found that 86% of men and 56% of women admitted to having viewed pornography, with a third of adults fantasising about playing a dominant or aggressive role during sex, and a third fantasising about being submissive. Six per cent of UK adults, or approximately 2.9 million men and women, admitted to privately having violent sexual fantasies of some kind, meaning that hundreds of thousands of normal people who pose no specific risk of committing sexual offences could be targeted as criminals under the extreme porn law.
 
The paper goes on to argue that the current law could be used as a ‘blackmailer’s charter’ in the same way as homosexuality was before it was legalised in 1967. Completely consensual acts between sexual minorities are being blamed for all manner of social ills, and the individuals themselves are being punished for wider harms for which they are not plausibly responsible.
 
The threat that this law poses to the sanctity of free speech and the privacy of our personal lives is twofold. As well as potentially being used to test the water for more radical censorship in the pipeline, the unspecific nature of this legislation means that it can be used to discredit individuals who are in dispute with a public authority. 
 
Numerous studies have also found that as pornography becomes more widely available, cheaper, or more tailored to individual desire, sexual violence falls. Crackdowns on representations lead to more demand for the real thing.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“Most people don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but that’s what extreme porn laws do. This report highlights just how bad these laws really are – they turn millions of law-abiding adults into potential criminals simply for enjoying consensual spanking or dressing up in the bedroom. The evidence is very clear that pornography does not drive violence, and indeed it may reduce it. These are badly drafted laws that should never have made it to the statute books, and this report confirms the urgent need for the government to scrap them.”

Nick Cowen, author of the paper said:

“The extreme porn ban criminalises depictions of sex acts even if they are safely performed by consenting adults. We have seen the law used, in particular, to target and expose gay men. Each such case represents a personal tragedy and a disgraceful use of our criminal justice system's scarce resources. The costs of the law are disproportionate to any public benefit, and as implemented cannot plausibly protect women’s interests for which the ban was supposedly introduced.”
 

-ENDS-


Notes to editors:                                                        
*Data taken from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project 2007
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
To report ‘Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography’ can be accessed here


The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Further work by Nick Cowen: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12238/full

Sam Bowman takes on Ken Loach's latest film in The Daily Telegraph

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argues that Ken Loach has picked the wrong villain in his latest film I, Daniel Blake. The story of people being mistreated by faceless bureaucrats in an unfeeling, capitalistic state is full of despair, but to blame modern capitalism would be wrong Sam argues:

Think about the hassle that the supposed pleasure of going on holiday once involved. Today, travel agents exist to offer cheap package holidays they’ve bought in bulk. Just 20 years ago, they existed because the airline and hotel industries were so bureaucratic that no ordinary person could deal with them directly. Nowadays the really crushing part of travelling is replacing a lost passport or applying for a visa – the two last big holdouts of government “service”.  
In these as in so many other consumer areas, bureaucrats have been scrubbed from our daily lives. Trade and competition – the sort of competition that involves seducing customers from rivals by offering something better – have driven a phenomenal betterment in the lives of everyone, including the protagonists of Ken Loach’s dramas. Both government and business can be bureaucratic, but only businesses have an incentive to improve.

Read the full article here

Will driverless cars be the end of public transport? You bet, says Tim Worstall in City AM

Tim Worstall, senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, has argued that driverless cars will hail the end of public transport in this morning's City AM. 

Whether it’s Uber that perfects the autonomous vehicle is yet to be revealed: but they will be perfected and they will destroy the entire public transport system. Given the sheer number of people that a commuter train system can move, that section of the system will last longer than others. But urban and rural bus systems (where any of the latter still exist) will simply be wiped out.
As the current incarnation of Uber shows, we just love point-to-point on demand transport if it’s cheap enough. Kill off the cost of the driver with an AI and autonomous vehicles will be price comparable with the bus. It’s a complete no brainer: public transport systems will be eviscerated by the driverless car.

Read the article in full here

Roland Smith explains how Brexit would effect Expats in The Daily Telegraph

Roland Smith, Adam Smith Institute Fellow and author of "The Liberal Case for Leave", made the case for the EEA options in The Daily Telegraph this week. Explaining how Brexit would effect the Expat community, Roland said:

Against a backdrop of gyrating markets and with very constrained timescales, the Government would conclude the most optimal way of de-risking Brexit would be to take up a European Economic Area position, which would mean re-joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Indeed, this may be the only basis upon which the EU will deal.
Such a deal would signal an end to scare stories of being cut off from the Single Market, and alleviate worries around Irish borders, Scottish independence, involvement in Science and Education programmes and notably, the concerns of British Expats and their rights.
Expats might therefore want to look at the campaign anew and imagine whether Britain really should stay on the conveyor belt to a politically integrated “country called Europe”, or should step off and have a market-based deal instead.

Read the article in full here

Sam Bowman defends Beyoncé in the International Business Times

Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, has defended Beyoncé Knowles in his latest article for the IBTimes. Reacting to calls to boycott the Ivy Park range, Sam argues:

The best we can do is not to take these jobs away but to expand the options available to poor developing world workers. Guest worker programmes could be introduced and expanded to allow more of the global poor to come and work in Britain, which would increase their incomes by between ten and twenty times.
There is much more we can and should do, but boycotting goods made in sweatshops won't help. Buying the clothes they make boosts their incomes and gives them better jobs than they can hope for otherwise. In the battle between the do-gooders and Beyoncé, it is Ms Knowles who is truly on the side of the world's poor.

Read the article in full here

Eamonn Butler warns that protectionism ain’t dead yet in City AM

Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argued that we haven't seen the back of protectionism yet, in a debate with Linda Yueh for City AM. Butler asserted: 

We’ve seen it aplenty from populist presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And – if she manages to escape indictment – Hillary Clinton will become President only by appeasing Sanders and all those Democrats who previously voted for Nader, Perot and Buchanan. That’s not good, particularly since the US is a massive trading nation.
Meanwhile, EU protectionism may sink the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), signalling the high-water mark of global free trade. Many will excuse the US’s tariff on Chinese steel as an “emergency measure” for “special circumstances”. Such claims are always the thin end of the wedge for bad but enduring policy. But it’s not just about tariff numbers. A bigger concern is non-tariff barriers, where protectionism abounds. Need one say more than “a single market in services”?

Read the full article here

 

Ben Southwood quoted in the Guardian over e-cig restrictions

Head of Research at the ASI, Ben Southwood, was quoted in the Guardian regarding the new EU restrictions on e-cigarettes. Ben said:

Public health authorities should not lose sight of their real goal – or what should be their real goal – reducing harm to citizens while still allowing them freedom to make personal decisions, including those which involve trade-offs between health and pleasure.
The recent crackdown on e-cigs is not only a restriction on consumer and individual freedom, but will condemn thousands – who might have switched from smoking to vaping – to an early death.

Read the article in full here

Press Release: Fight on cigarettes going up in smoke with damaging EU regulation

New EU regulation could lead to millions more premature deaths than necessary claims think tank the Adam Smith Institute.
 
Tomorrow the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive will come into effect, bringing with it a swathe of new regulations including the banning of ten packs of cigarettes and restrictions on the size of rolling tobacco packets.
 
The regulation is aimed to encourage people to give up smoking, but despite being specifically set up to target Tobacco usage the directive’s regulation also covers the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and vaping liquid which include 0% tobacco.
 
Millions of people have already given up smoking using e-cigarettes and the scientific community, including UK Department of Health sub-body Public Health England, have estimated that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
 
Regardless of this, as of Friday 20th May, cartridges and tanks of e-liquid will be limited to 2ml, a incredibly small amount, and refill containers to 10ml, completely preventing bulk-buying and outlawing the products users find most convenient. The maximum strength will be 20mg, ruling out high strength varieties that most closely approximate cigarettes.
 
These rules make e-cigarettes more difficult to use yet make little difference to safety, and arguably push people towards real cigarettes. When the United States banned e-cigarette sales to minors, they counteracted 70 percent of the previous downward trend in smoking among 12-17-year-olds. Abstract worries about re-normalisation work against concrete attempts to practically reduce harm. As long as real cigarettes are available as an alternative option to these arbitrary restrictions on e-cigs we are bound to see consumption shift from e-cigs to real cigs.
 
Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said:
 
“Public health authorities should not lose sight of their real goal—or what should be their real goal—reducing harm to citizens while still allowing them freedom to make personal decisions, including those which involve tradeoffs between health and pleasure. The recent crackdown on e-cigs is not only a restriction on consumer and individual freedom, but will condemn thousands—who might have switched from smoking to vaping—to an early death.”


-ENDS-

Notes to editors:
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

 

Sam Bowman defends CEO Pay in Director Magazine

ASI Executive Director, Sam Bowman, appeared in Director Magazine arguing in defence of CEO Pay following various high profile disputes of late. Sam argues:

If executives really are worth as much or more to their firms as they are being paid, the system is working properly. Executive pay has risen significantly over the past half-century because executives have become more important. The more globalised the economy becomes, the more important the strategic decisions made by people at the top of the firm become.

Read the full article here.

ASI Executive Director, Sam Bowman, discusses e-cigarette regulation on IBTimes

Sam Bowman argued that we need to support healthier alternatives to drink, drugs and smoking in an article on the IBTimes this week. The piece reasons that:

If we are becoming able to invent safer alternatives to tobacco, alcohol and drugs, we need a regulatory system that fosters these innovations. This requires a complete rethink of what we've got, a move from the precautionary policy to so-called "permissionless innovation" where new products are assumed to be acceptable for sale, with appropriate caveats, without overwhelming evidence otherwise.
As with environmental rules, public health regulations should encourage safer new inventions that people will adopt of their own free will. Abstinence-only public health policy obviously doesn't work. If we let it, new technology might.

Read the whole article here.