Sex chat without having to register

Defenders of the court ruling would argue that there was nothing defensible about the content of the chat logs, which pertained to “explicit conversation concerning incestuous, sadistic paedophil[ic] sex acts on young and very young children".

Surely this is no more than a minor change in the law having little effect on anyone who is not themselves a dangerous paedophile?

It cannot be stressed just how ground-breaking this verdict is.

The Obscene Publications Act celebrates its 53rd birthday this year.

Throughout that period, the idea that it might be used to police one-to-one conversation does not seem to have figured highly in the thinking of police and prosecuting authorities.

Indeed, as previously reported in The Register, a submission by Kent Police to the consultation on the extreme porn law in 2005/6 complained that the law was insufficient and, as they submitted: "There remains a legislative gap in terms of written fantasy material specifically about child rape and murder".

They added: "Most obscene material relates to books, magazines, films and DVDs.

The OPA also applies to anything published on the internet, whether text, pictures or online chat".

The OPA, broadly, does not criminalise any specific words or depictions.

Rather, it leaves it up to a jury to decide what will tend to "deprave or corrupt" - which over the years has meant NOT finding obscene Lady Chatterley's Lover, the infamous "Schoolkids" issue of Oz, Inside Linda Lovelace and, most recently, during the case of Michael Peacock, full-hand fisting, urination, staged kidnapping and rape.

If the application of this legal principle remains restricted to instances where fantasy is focused on child abuse, it remains a theoretical impediment to freedom of speech, but one about which few are likely to go to the wall.

The danger, as some may now suspect, is that the principle will, inevitably, be widened out - with the result that discussing sexual fantasy online may become increasingly perilous for those who wish to do so.

This focus was picked upon by barrister Roger Daniells-Smith, who in an early appearance on behalf of GS reportedly told the court: "We say this is a moral crusade by Kent Police to extend the law, to try to get this material included as extreme pornography." Kent Police reject this.

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