Debating on topics of serious concern

Symposium

Debating on topics of serious concern

The symposium started with the first two speakers, Prof Gavin Sutter, University College of London and Wendy Seltzer, Fellow, Harvard Law School, speaking about ‘Liability of intermediaries in distributing pornography on Internet.’ Both of them presented the laws that regulate child pornography and the liability of Internet sites in the UK and the USA respectively.

Speaking about obscenity and how it is defined differently in each country, Wendy Sheltzer said, “In the US, it is sexual depictions appealing to prudential mind. It is different in Germany, Sweden and Middle-East. In Japan, it’s the case of cyber fallacy, where animated movies are permitted at the age of consent and which is culturally different from the US and even the UN could not pressurise the Japanese authorities to change the law,” she added.

Prof Gavin Sutter spoke about child pornography in the UK and informed that it is a crime to possess it and though there have been cases, where privacy laws have been violated, the judgement mostly overrules it. Child pornography remained a topic of discussion through the symposium and had other dignitaries like P Srisudha, a teaching associate and Uday Shankar, a professor of Law at Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property, throw light on the subject. Uday spoke about seeing a problem objectively since judiciary is making the law. P Srisudha spoke about how more public awareness is required to curb the problem.

Wendy Seltzer followed this by a small discussion about pornography vis a vis first amendment in the USA. This was followed by talk on methods to regulate pornography. Gavin Sutter said, “Regulation of cyber pornography is like a hydra. We cut only the tails but never reach the head or go for the state regulations. The regulation should be at the source.” Further, during the discussion practical problems related to law were brought up like the case of extradition of the person who has committed the crime and conflict of laws.

“Pornography is legalised in Denmark, but a crime in the UK,” he said. Another topic that saw a lot of heated argument was the difference between freedom of expression and pornography. While the general argument was to see political, social and cultural suitability, Wendy Sheltzer informed that the first amendment gives no statutory definition. Strengthening of cyber laws was also brought up. A solution floated was to create a legal regime to promote use of technology and a shift from harm based standards.

Tasneem Deo, a student suggested that in India, the government should ask the question ‘what is harmful?’, to take a decision on it. “A judgement based on values and morals is very ambiguous because these change from place to place,” she said.


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