The European Parliament is mulling over a proposal brought forth by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality which, amongst other things, calls for a self-regulating ban on all forms of pornography in the "media". Parliamentary member Christian Engstrom (Piratpartietnoted the proposal's illy-defined term could be interpreted as encompassing all online content, leading to a possible EU-wide ban on all Internet pornography.

"Self-regulation" indicates the proposed ban would not illegalize pornography, but such a proposal may pave the the way to a future where ISPs and other private actors are given special policing rights over subscribers and Internet surfers. This type of "regulation" is the basis for the six-strike rule and SOPA.

Meanwhile, Iceland has been considering a truly comprehensive ban on "violent or degrading" Internet smut, citing dangers to youth. Unlike the EU's approach though, Iceland's ban would be government-enforced and not left to the discretion of private actors.

The EU's proposal asks member states to, "take concrete action on its resolution of 16 September 1997 on discrimination against women in advertising, which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism".

In 1997, the Parliamentary zeitgeist may have not viewed "Internet" as a type of media, whereas TV commercials, shows, billboard advertising and magazines epitomized the term in the 90s. As a result, the re-invocation of wording from a 16-year-old resolution could cast a larger net than intended.

Incidentally, the non-binding (i.e. no teeth) 1997 resolution which spawned the controversial provision above didn't even seem to recognize the Internet as media. In fact, the original resolution called upon officials to create a list of guidelines that ISPs would be encouraged to follow, rather than an outright ban of online pornography.

Much like "media", what constitutes "pornography" isn't clearly defined either. This has generated broader censorship concerns. "I know it when I see it", U.S. Justice Potter Stewart famously proclaimed

EU Parliamentry officials will be casting their votes on Tuesday while Iceland's proposed ban remains in the works.