Sunbathing topless or nude is widely accepted in Europe, but the same type of nudity may become illegal in Europe, if its found on the Internet.
The European Parliament on Tuesday will vote on a proposal that could lay the groundwork for banning pornography across all media - including the Internet, The International Herald Tribune reported.
If the European Parliament passes the measure, the proposal could influence Europe’s law-making body, the European Commission, which could then decide whether or not to draft actual legislation that would ban Internet pornography, the Tribune noted.
Free speech critics fear that if adopted, such a law could restrict civil liberties and freedom of expression in the 27-member state bloc. They are also concerned with the report's vague language.
Called the “report on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU,” the proposal states that there is an "increasingly noticeable tendency...to show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses." It also notes that pornography is becoming ubiquitous and is "slipping into our everyday lives as an evermore universally accepted, often idealized, cultural element," according to CNET. It was introduced by left-leaning parliamentarian Kartika Liotard of the Netherlands.
Christian Engström, member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Sweden's Pirate Party, said the wording of the proposal is very similar to an older resolution which was passed in 1997 and called for “statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism."
The problem with the new one though, Engström said, is that it adds stricter language and the inclusion of Internet-based traffic, which wasn’t a big issue back in 1997, according to the Tribune. Now online porn is pervasive.
Since the bill includes ban of porn in "any media," Engström said it could include the Web, social networks, emails, and even the photos that European citizens upload, CNET reported.
It also calls for the establishment of regulatory agencies with "a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualization of girls," according to The Huffington Post.
"To a certain extent, the exact meaning on this proposed ban on pornography is unclear, since neither the 1997 resolution nor the text we will be voting on next week contains any definition of what is meant by 'in the media,'" Engström pointed out.
Wired U.K. argues that the ban ultimately won't become law, but still hedges its bet.