PunterNet, PR, and Bad Driving

Harriet Harman is not having a good time. She is accused of failing to stop at road traffic accident, she was embroiled in the  expenses claims fiasco, and she is the deputy leader of a party that just got dropped by the biggest selling paper in the UK. But, this is not why she is on this site.

She is mentioned here because of her statements about the website Punter Net. As the name of the site implies PunterNet is a website, for “punters”, or more precisely clients of prostitutes. It could be described as being similar to a Which? forum for users of prostitutes (not that Which? would like that analogy). PunterNet provides a surprisingly large amount of information about the prostitutes that are reviewed, for everything from costs and location, right down to wheel chair access.

Harriet Harman called for the website to be banned. And, as the site is hosted in California, she address the comment directly to the Californian governor, Arnold Swartzenager

Ms Harman’s exact statement was:

Surely it can’t be too difficult for the Terminator to terminate PunterNet…..If he doesn’t I’ve got a message for Arnie – I’ll be back!

British politicians don’t really pull off the James Bond style quips very well; Ms even Harman less so. Particularly, because it doesn’t make any sense.

Assuming that the Governor chooses to push forward a law to ban this site, and then California legislates against the site, both of which are a huge assumptions, then the site will simply be moved elsewhere. It could move to a neighboring state, or a different country, there will be no difference whatsoever.

What is frightening is that Harriet Harman doesn’t seem to know this. Presumably she is not aware that there are many sites in the world that contain material that the UK government doesn’t like, but can still be viewed from the UK. Everything from Al Qaeda promotional websites to child abuse images and extreme pornography. If she is not aware of this she is remarkably ill informed.

Even more strange is the fact that UK government effectively  operate a firewall that allows them to block almost anything and everything they want to. This has happened for quite some time, but hit the mainstream press recently when a page from Wikipedia was blocked.

How can the deputy prime minster not know this?

More accurately, either she, her advisors and script writers didn’t know any of this, or they did know this and still decided to push the idea of closing down a website, operating legally in a different country, as it fits in with their personal agenda.

The net effect?

The statements by Harriet Harman were in fact so ridiculous that the owners of PunterNet, stated that the recent press had produced lots of new traffic for the site:

I would like to thank you for the huge influx of traffic to my website which your actions have caused….I am sure that the ladies who are a part of the PunterNet community thank you as well, as they will no doubt benefit financially from the many new clients who might otherwise never have found them.

The Law

Historically, the UK has allowed prostitution. Rather choosing to legislate against those who exploit women, banning (in theory) brothels and pimps, put allowing individual women, working for themselves, to make their own choices; the morals for this are not commented on here. Therefore its strange that the UK Government wants to ban  a site, in a different country, which advertises something which can be legal both in the country it resides and the UK. Has she not seen all the adverts in UK magazines, and phone boxes, advertising “escorts”?

Police experience in the UK has learnt that providing safe environments for women to sell sex is the lesser of the two evils, when compared to the problems of “street walkers”. As a result, in many areas the police have decriminalized prostitution, by allowing the practice to continue unhindered.

The government states that they are concerned that about a spike in the sex industry during the Olympics and want to take action to stop this: This is laudable and may be accurate, with previous major sporting events showing a huge increase in the use of prostitutes. This demand for sex for cash leads to the demand for more prostitutes which, in turn, can lead to sex trafficking; and all of the human horrors that brings with it.

If it’s the governments intent is to stop the eastern European gangs kidnapping and moving young women around Europe, then perhaps the best place to start is not shutting down a website that operates in California, and has been since  1999 (according to the WHOIS database)

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