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OpiumHerz avatar 8:39 AM on 09.24.2013
The worst thing about censorship is ███████ - 020 - The Lanzarote convention

Salida dear readers,
my name is Jim aka "OpiumHerz" and as some of you may already guess by that nickname: I am german. With the blog series "The worst thing about censorship is ███████ " I want to simply give you a little insight in videogame censorship, which is still pretty much alive and kicking here in Germany (but I won't restrict myself to Germany exclusively).I'll try to post entries at least all two weeks or so. Feel free to comment for suggestions, corrections or critique.

This episode is about: (Switzerland and) the Lanzarote conevntion


Now, this week will be a bit more serious. No pictures or anything like that, and I try to keep it as short and precies as possible, without going to deep into legal mumbo jumbo, but this one is REALLY messed up.

As some of you might remember I said earlier that we Germans like to import our uncut games, mostly from Austria and Switzerland, as those versions often have german dubbing/texts. Recently Switzerland passed a law, the so called Lanzarote convention. This law is mainly aimed against sexual abuse of minors. A good thing, right? Well, the devil is lying in the detail.
I won't go too deep into the law thing here, as I also lack the deep knowledge (I'm not a lawyer or anything, alhtough I work with a prosecutor-to-be together on this one), but the main problem is the wording of this. It's worded in a way that is not really clear. You know how in TV and the movies a lawyer makes a breakthrough with finding a hook in a law, because it isn't phrased for a specific situations. Imagine that stuff here - only it's opposite day. The Lanzarote convention illegalizes "non actual minors depicted in sexual behaviour". Just let that one sentence sink in for a moment.

Due to this soft wording and the rest of it, the Lanzarote convention basically illegalizes almost EVERY VIDEO GAME! And I'm not kidding. Basically this law illegalizes acts that are not really sexual with fictitious characters.
All that Neon Genesis Evangelion fanservice stuff? Illegal.
Dead or Alive with it's sexy posing and alike? Illegal!
Persona 4 had that one character that was basically a pole-dancing gir- ILLEGAL!

See, you can't prove the age of a fictitious character. Because a fictitious character can't have a real ID. With real pornography, that is no problem. The movie may state it's really TEEN girls, but when somebody checks their IDs you see they are adults. You can't do that with videogame or cartoon characters. Simply stating the age isn't enough, also, because what could be technically a lie can't negate a crime. So anything that MIGHT be SLIGHTLY sexual in any way gets illegalized. Hey, remember how Peach kissed Mario on the nose in Super Mario 64?
... I guess you see where this will go.

I said "will" insttead of "might" for a reason. This thing falls under swiss criminal law and not the private law. If it where private law, good for them. Because then the rule "where there's no accuser, there is no judge" would grip. Criminal law however means that the state brings up the charge - and it HAS to. Even if the prosecutor knows that the charge is total bullshit he is forced to go through with it. This would create hundreds of thousands cases and turn as many swiss citizens into sexual offenders.

But how would they control this, right? Well, ask the KOBIK. The KOBIK is swiss unit for fighting internet crime. Now you must know that Switzerland has data preservation. Whatever sites you visited is safed for six months. And the KOBIK likes to do things they aren't allowed to do. You see where this might lead up to. They KOBIK aren't police, but they are acting like it and already are somewhat infamous for some stuff they pulled. Every swiss citizen has every right to be very, VERY suspicious here.

And last but not least: part of the problem is that even accidental consume or consume without ownage is punishable. So let's say you click on a Youtube link or any given homepage - you'd get a message that you just opened up an evil website and now have the KOBIK on your ass. You're someone who wanted to watch kiddie porn after all, right? Because that's what this boils down to. Stuff like Dead or Alive and things that are far less harmless are basically treated as child pornography. Oh, but you don't know what sites you are allowed to visit and what not. The KOBIK won't make it's "black list" public. It's a pure gamble. You won't know until it hits you. And I can only stress here once more that harmless stuff will fall under this. Stuff like Shin-chan for example. Stuff that should nowhere near the word "illegal". Oh, and comic shops and videogame shops would basically have to close down, since they would be sellers of illegal goods.


You wanna know what the REAL kicker is? This law would not have been necessary in the slightest. Everything the Lanzarote convention does to prevent sexual abuse of minors is already implemented in the swiss law through other articles of their law. Even one member of the swiss parliament, who voted for the convention in unison (!), said this! Quote:

The SVP-Fraction approves the [...] so called Lanzarote-Convention, although Switzerland is already fullfilling almost all of the the requirements of the convention and an entry in it is not necessary.



In the same breath she admitted that the convention is hurting the principle of territoriality, indirectly admitting that the convention itself isn't in compliance with the law. This law they passed is basically illegal itself! YOU SEE WHAT MADNESS THIS IS?!


The earliest date for this law to get "activated" is Januar 2014. Whatever happens then, nobody knows. But I wanted you to show you guys this. Sadly this didn't catch fire. No one cares for this, even though we tried to spread it as far as possible. Not the shops, to the fans - nobody seems to take this seriously. We can't even start to figure out why, but it definitely isn't good. But I really felt the urge to show you guys this. This shit is real and it's happening and might end up with the illegalization of almost all of video games in Switzerland. And Switzerland is just the beginning, as the convention is aimed to be used in other countries too.

 
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