Sex and tech had its own special relationship this year, and 2011 saw more unbelievable sex and tech related headlines than ever.
Porn bittorent lawsuits went into bizzaroland, sex crime online got stranger, porn apps increased, celebrities collided with online sex culture, Western governments adopted anti-porn censorship tactics against their citizens, dot-XXX saw the light of day and more...
Which stories had an impact?
10. Porn Bittorrent Lawsuits Became A Parody
2011 was definitely the year that public appetites turned against file sharing lawsuits, especially when it the public began to see how carelessly the porn lawsuits were being handled. In May, a legally blind Santa Clara, California man received notice he was being sued for torrenting porn.
When a 70-year-old woman faced a $150,000 fine for torrenting porn, everyone really realized that the porn torrent lawsuits had really gone too far. As The Seattle Weekly reported in August, since the beginning of 2011 94,000 Americans have been sued for allegedly downloading porn without paying for it.
The Weekly added, "tellingly, not a single case has ever been decided by a jury". At least one judge said "no more" to Big Porn's copyright trolling.
9. Bizarre Sex Crimes
If ever there was a peak year for bizarre sex tech crimes, it was 2011. Maybe it's the internet's nature to shine a brighter light than ever before on the twisted ways of human nature, but let's hope that 2012 sees a drop in headlines that involve sex and deeply disturbing crimes.
There was a sex torture chambers and castration murder, a wi-fi hacking neighbor tried to frame his neighbors for child porn, a penis was forcibly removed, a hair salon burglar was allegedly made into a sex slave and fed viagra for three days, a father and daughter went to jail for being lovers after finding each other online, a Gordon Ramsay porn dwarf lookalike was allegedly eaten alive by badgers, a sex cult was raided and its members were arrested for sex work, an online "sextortionist" ruined women's lives before he was caught and arrested, and much much more...
8. Female Orgasm Studied In MRI
For the first time in history, female orgasm and technology were combined to expand our understanding of female genital pleasure - most notably when Rutgers University Dr. Barry Komisaruk created circumstances in which a female subject experienced orgasm under the watchful eyes of a magnetic resonance imagery machine that recorded the results. (Men were mapped in the 1950s.)
The results are still being studied, but the images are remarkable, and stirred up a storm in the media. Things got even more interesting when the subject herself - New Scientist writer Kayt Sukel - wrote an entertaining essay about her entire experience having an orgasm for science.
While porn or anything for people over the age of 18 is expressly forbidden from Apple's App Store, it didn't stop rumors about an uncensored Playboy iPad app from circulating and fooling reputable sources. Still, 2011 was the year we saw porn apps mature and - yes - incorporate gamification into porn app models. Same goes for closely related douchebag apps.
The freedom in the Android app space let adult innovators stretch their business models and saw significant successes in companies like MiKandi and API-happy Pink Visual. Even Ryan Air (the airline) said it would get into the porn app game.
6. Facebook's Rape Pages
It took Change.org two months, 186K signatures and a furious Twitter campaign to get pro-rape pages removed from Facebook. The first round was in August, when people demanded that Facebook take down a so-called “rape humor” page called “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [SIC] chasing her down an alleyway.”
Facebook defended keeping the rape page as a sort-of everyday, harmless thing, and in a statement to the BBC likened the pro-rape page to “pub jokes.” The pages returned a month later and Facebook dragged out the takedown process until internet citizens were seeing red.
5. U.S. Preps to Pass Anti-Porn Snooping Bill
In May 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives’ judiciary committee passed a bill that will make the online activity of every American available to police and attorneys upon request under the guise of protecting children from pornography. The Republican-majority sponsored bill is called the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.
“Protecting Children” forces ISPs to retain customer names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and dynamic IP addresses. It’s like having your wallet plus the web sites you visit tracked and handed over on request; the ripe-for-abuse bill has been opposed from the EFF to the ACLU but it has now been calendared for January 2012.
4. Ashton and Demi Versus Sex Work (I mean, trafficking)
In April, actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher launched an anti-child-sex-trafficking campaign (“Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” and the Demi and Ashton Foundation), pulled in celebs for influence and reach, and had teamed up their launch with the anti-porn extremists at Shared Hope. They made no distinction between rape and sexual slavery versus consensual sex work, and staged attacks on Twitter against the Village Voice's Backpage.com for its consensual sex work ads.
This got the poorly-prepared pair into a media storm that didn't turn out very well for Moore and Kutcher when the Voice revealed that their Foundation was proffering false statistics. Kutcher petulantly responded in a Tumbr post titled "It could be YOUR daughter, YOUR niece, YOUR neighbor…" - before he was caught cheating on Moore with a girl younger than Moore's oldest daughter.
3. UK Porn Filtering
UK government stated more than once that they want to hold ISP’s responsible for filtering internet content in order to appease a Christian charity. There would be no technical or peer scrutiny in filter implementation, and it was announced that Britain’s four largest Internet providers (comprising roughly 90% of the market) would be implementing filters to block a range of non-specified adult-themed sites as part of an agreement between the government and a Christian organization.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the details of the plan made in conjunction with Christian charity “Mother’s Union” and its published Bailey Report to create measures that will prevent customers of ISPs BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Murdoch’s Sky to access pornographic, gambling, self-harm and other blacklisted websites. Security researchers were among the first to raise an alarm about the deeply flawed plan.
2. Porn Wikileaks
In April 2011, anti-gay griefers with access to a medical database stole personal and medical information for over 12,000 porn performers and published the records in connection with the individuals' real names and home addresses with the stated intent to harm the performers.
The incident, self-named after Wikileaks, was widely misreported with factual errors and one news outletsuggested it was deserved due to the nature of the victims' work - even though the database included people that were not in the adult industry.
2011 saw the green light for .XXX and future meaningless TLDs, and no one was happy about it - except, of course, the people making money hand over fist with domain sales.
The summit between Big Porn and ICM Registry was a disaster that revealed ICM didn't really care about doing right by the adult industry, and big players in porn responded with a lawsuit against ICM. Universities and colleges bought the domain in self-defense, despite ICM's assurances against the need for defensive registrations. It was a big mess that made big headlines everywhere it went.