“The impact technology has had upon society today cannot be measured. In fact, it has had such an impact that if it were wiped out, the human race would be thrown back into the Dark Ages” (Leon 2011, p. 2). The above statement was made to show the extent that technology influences our society today.
Indeed, new forms of technology have greatly revolutionized almost all aspects of our society. It is almost impossible to point out one aspect of the society that is not affected by technology (directly or indirectly).
In fact, technology has had such a strong impact on the society, that if it were eliminated, the society would probably grind to a halt. Furthermore, technology controls all aspects of our daily activities (from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed) because everything we do or engage in is run by some form of technology (Leon 2011).
The thought that technology has greatly improved our functions as a society is undoubted, but in the same light, it is only fair to represent the fact that technology has made our society become more ferocious and mean. Today, people use technology to spy on other people, launch attacks (like digital terrorism) and perpetrate hateful information (among other ills) (Wall 2007).
However, there is no better example of how technology has been condemned for its misdeeds than through its revolution of the pornography industry (Gallop 2011). Pornography greatly touches on the morals of a society and indeed, like the diverse universe we live in today, people hold different views about it.
This paper seeks to understand the impact of new technology on online pornography based on an incident in Indonesia where a lawmaker was caught viewing porn during a parliamentary session. This incident centers around the actions of Arifinto who belongs to the Islamic conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) of Indonesia (Wilson 2011). This incident acts as the case study for this paper.
Privacy and identity issues will be highlighted through this case study. Besides using the above case study as a basis for explaining the research problem, this paper also analyzes how technology has impacted our understanding of pornography through different tenets of the industry including distribution, production, access, privacy and identity.
This paper therefore shows that technology has completely changed concepts of the production of pornographic material, the distribution of pornographic material, access to pornographic material and our understanding of the concepts of privacy and identity. The diffusion innovations theory will (also) be used to explain these facts.
Even though the pornography industry has grown in leaps and bounds, a few years ago, our understanding of pornography was mainly informed by our understanding that pornographic materials could only be found in printed forms and in theatres and strip clubs (Emily 2007, p. 2).
However, from the progress in technology, the motion picture industry has heralded a new dawn in the distribution of pornographic materials. Initially, video and home video cassette recorders provided an opportunity to change the distribution of pornographic content in new and more personal ways.
Indeed, the introduction of video and home video cassette recorders meant that people did not necessarily have to go to a movie theatre to watch movies or sex shows; one could easily access such content at the comfort of their bedrooms. With this new progress, the porn industry found another opportunity to grow because producers made many video productions for home entertainment (Holt 2011, p. 12).
However, perhaps, the biggest break in the distribution of pornographic content came with the advent of the internet. The internet provided a global network for the sale of pornographic content because pornographic materials could easily be shared through the worldwide web. Subscriptions to adult content websites is now not a new phenomenon. The surge in digital content of pornographic materials was especially spurred by the relatively low prices of owning personal computers (Emily 2007).
From the progress in technological inventions, our perception of pornography has been greatly changed. Pornography is no more a taboo subject; it is quickly becoming a readily accessible product that is no longer a preserve of a specific age group or culture. It is readily available to all.
Perhaps, in the past, it was easy to regulate the sale and distribution of print material (bearing pornographic content) or the access to strip and dance clubs (age restrictions) but with the advent of the digital age, pornography is no longer subject to the above limitations. In fact, the lack of these limitations has been a cause of worry for most adults because they perceive the lack of these limitations as a threat to the morals of our society (Holt 2011).
Advancements in technology have made it very difficult to uphold principles of true identity in the sale, production, distribution or even access to digital content. The biggest worry among most people today is the easy access to pornographic content that minors have (Gallop 2011).
More so, the invention of portable digital devices like tablet computers, mobile phones (and the likes) have made it very difficult to supervise the access to digital content among minors. Now, minors can access pornographic materials merely by faking their identities and more importantly, their ages (Holliday 2003, p. 124).
Incidents of identity misrepresentation and the unauthorized access to classified information or adult content has been facilitated by advancements in technology. The digital landscape now is such that, there is no basis for verifying information provided online. Therefore, it is very easy for people to masquerade themselves for people they are truly not.
The use of fake names to access or produce pornographic content is especially rampant. As opposed to previous years where it was easy to know people accessing pornographic content, it has been increasingly difficult (in recent years) to identify who is truly accessing pornographic content (Gallop 2011).
Focusing on Arifinto’s widely publicized case; we can easily testify that his private browsing of pornographic material was anonymously done. Indeed, the websites he was accessing could not reveal his identity. In other words, if he was not caught, we would not know that the lawmaker accessed the pornographic materials and it would equally be difficult to detect if any prominent personality was accessing the pornographic content.
A few years back, it would be very difficult to conceal one’s identity when accessing these pornographic materials. As explained in earlier sections of this paper, pornography was mainly accessed through the physical presence of the consumer at the venue of production. Consumers had to be present at the location where the pornography was being produced because technology did not provide the convenience or storing such information or distributing such content through digital means.
For example, if Arifinto was not spotted by the photographer (as he viewed pornographic material) it would be difficult to know if he truly accessed such information. In fact, it is there mere fact that there was evidence pegging him to the accusations that he accepted to resign and admit to his actions (Wilson 2011). Otherwise, if there was no evidence to show that he was actually viewing pornographic material in parliament (and he decided not to accept such claims), it would be difficult to pin him down.
Just to show the influence of technology in this example, it is important to highlight the fact that if Arifinto attended a strip club or a live sex show, he would have otherwise been spotted in person and he could not deny such claims because there would be eye-witness accounts. Therefore, technology has greatly facilitated identity concealment and it has made it possible to access pornography without one’s identity being known.
Privacy is often a common concern in most technological debates. Often, this concept is used to refer to debates concerning the importance of embracing technology (or not) (Bogart 2002). When referring to pornography, we can see that technology has greatly infringed on people’s rights to privacy.
In fact, pornography thrives on the fact that people would pay money to access pictures or videos which would have otherwise been considered private. Incidents of prominent personalities having private videos or photos leaked to the internet are ever more common now than before.
Arifinto’s case clearly depicts the extent that technology has changed the concept of privacy in today’s society. In detail, the invention of digital devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers has enabled people to access information or videos in public places. For example, as explained in earlier sections of this paper, in the past, access to pornographic materials was only limited to strip clubs and dance houses.
Sex shows were mainly done in private and in highly regulated environments where everything that went on in such premises was considered private. However, with the advent of technology and the continuous invention of digital devices, people have been able to access products which would otherwise be considered private in public places (Cavalier 2005).
When Afrinto accessed pornographic material in parliament, he exhibited the power of technology in transforming private content into publicly accessible information. A few years ago, he would not have been able to access such pornographic material in public places (let alone in parliament).
Coincidentally, it is also through another technological device that he was pointed out. A camera man with a powerful camera was able to zoom at the pornographic pages that the parliamentarian was browsing (from a distance).
In fact, media reports show that Afrinto’s claims that he accidentally bumped into the pornographic site were disputed by the camera man’s photo which showed that he had about six folders of pornographic content (opened) as his colleagues debated important matters of national importance (Wilson 2011).
The influence of technology on privacy can therefore be highlighted through this example, despite the fact that it was interesting to see that the same technology that was used to access “private” content was also used to infringe on Afrinto’s privacy.
Afrinto’s use of the tablet computer to access pornographic material therefore shows the influence of technology in making pornographic content (which would have otherwise been considered private) public. Indeed, if Afrinto accessed such content at the comfort of his house, he probably wouldn’t have received the same level of criticism he did.
The diffusion innovation theory focuses on explaining how innovation is quickly communicated within a specific society. Usually, this theory is used to explain how new ideas are spread (within a society) because innovation is perceived to be a representation of new ideas.
Rogers (2003) explains that characteristics of new ideas or concepts in communication often determine the rate at which new technology will be communicated. There are four elements that are used to explain the rate of technological adoption (revolution within the society). These elements include communication channels, time, the social context and the innovation itself (Rogers 2003).
These four elements can be used to explain the rate and form used by technological innovations to revolutionize our understanding of the pornography industry. More so, the concept of ‘time’ clearly explains the transition in the production and distribution of pornographic content from previous years when pornography was considered a private product to now that it is readily accessible.
The time difference between today’s conventional methods of the sale, access and distribution of pornographic materials shows the change in the perception of pornography over the years.
The element of communication channels (explained in the diffusion innovation theory) explains the various forms of digital gadgets and networks that have been used to communicate pornographic content (Greenhalgh 2007, p. 20). Indeed, the internet and the tablet computer were the main forms of digital tools used by Arifinto to access pornography.
The concept of communication channels is therefore the main element of technology that has influenced the concepts of identity and privacy in today’s society. Through the communication tools used to share and transfer information, different safeguards for verifying subscriber information have been by-passed. Moreover, these communication tools have been used by subscribers to access information anonymously. This measure has completely changed the concept of identity in accessing digital contents.
The concept of innovation explains the advancements in technology used to transform the pornography industry. A common question asked by many observers when referring to the concept of innovation is why some innovations spread faster than others (Dwivedi 2011).
This paper identifies the worldwide network that the internet provides as a main catalyst for the changes in distribution strategies within the porn industry. Concisely, through the internet, Arifinto was able to access porn. The internet has also been able to transform the porn industry from a private industry to a public one. This phenomenon has been explained under the concept of privacy.
Finally, the diffusion innovations theory explains that the social context is an important element explaining the spread of innovations within the society. However, within the context of this study, the concept of social context can be used to explain the pressure and condemnation that Arifinto received after the pornography scandal.
The immense pressure to resign can be explained by the strict Islamic principles that did not condone pornography or appreciate the impact that technology brings in the Indonesian context. In fact, pornography access through new technology is condemned and at best, frowned upon (Wilson 2011).
Arifinto’s incident shows the transformation that technology has brought to our understanding of pornography. This paper shows that distribution, privacy and identity in pornography have been completely changed by technology. Technology has eased the access to pornographic material and similarly, it has changed the production of pornographic content.
Like the diffusion innovations theory explains, concepts of identity and privacy have also been completely changed through technology. Technology has made it easy for users to access pornographic material (anonymously) and it has also transformed pornography from a private product to a public product. Through these transformations, we see that technology has completely transformed our understanding of pornography in the 21st century.
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Case Study: Indonesian Lawmaker Resigns After Watching Porn in Parliament
An Indonesian lawmaker took multitasking to a new level during a parliamentary session Friday.
Unfortunately for Arifinto (who goes by one name), a photographer caught him watching porn on a tablet computer while his colleagues debated controversial plans to build a new parliament building.
Arifinto is a member of the conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Indonesia’s largest Islamic party. “As a pioneer in my party, I am drawn to take responsibility for the sake of the continuity and good image of my party,” he said Monday in a press conference that announced his resignation.
The photographer managed to zoom and capture several shots of Arifinto, who held his tablet underneath the table, over a time span of two and a half minutes. Arifinto initially claimed that he accidentally opened a porn website, but the photos proved that he had at least six folders containing pornographic content open on his screen.
Backed by his party, Arifinto pushed hard for Indonesia’s 2008 anti porn bill–a controversial bill that states downloading pornographic content faces a maximum of four years in prison and $232,000 in fines. In January, the PKS Party threatened to ban Blackberry in the country and forced them to filter porn on their Indonesian smartphones.
Though he’s certainly embarrassed himself (and potentially his party), it’s unclear whether Arifinto will serve prison time. A list of sanctions imposed late Sunday night by his party’s Sharia Council ordered him to recite the Koran, give alms to 60 poor people, ask Council leaders for religious advice, and ask for God’s mercy 100 times in the next 40 days. Despite losing his job, it seems he’s going to have his hands full; hopefully he’ll be able to stay away from porn for the time being.