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Governance theorists are beginning to recognise that objects of governance are only known through attempts to govern them(11) and governance is not a choice between centralisation and decentralisation.
It is about regulating relationships in complex systems,(12) and the global Internet does provide a great challenge for governance.
What is considered simply sexually explicit but not obscene in England may well be obscene in many other countries; conversely what is considered lawful but not pornographic in Sweden may well be obscene under the current UK legislation.
This chapter will discuss two different issues: the regulation of potentially harmful content such as pornography on the Internet; and regulation of invariably illegal content such as child pornography.
Section 1(1) of the 1959 Act provides that an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.(14) Under Section 2(1) of the Obscene Publications Act ( OPA), it is an offence to publish an obscene article or to have an obscene article for publication for gain.
This is why the wider concept of governance may be more suitable.
Before explaining the possibilities of how to govern the availability of pornographic content on the global Internet, I will briefly discuss how and in what form these materials are available on the Internet.
The availability of pornographic content on the Internet Pornography on the Internet is available in different formats.
UK obscenity legislation has recently been amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 ( CJPOA 1994) to deal with the specific problem of Internet pornography.(13) The following will show, however, that there are difficulties with the application of existing national laws to a medium such as the global Internet which does not have any borders.
Obscene Publications Act 19 These two statutes constitute the major legislation to combat pornographic material of any kind in the UK.
The Internet also makes it possible to discuss sex, see live sex acts, and arrange sexual activities(3) from computer screens.