Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Corporate Nudity Bans More Harmful Than Laws?

MORE THAN fifty years ago, nudist leaders had to take US Postal authorities all the way to the Supreme Court to establish the right to send nudist magazines through the mail.  Sunshine Press v. Summerfield was a landmark ruling that photographs of nude humans in things like picnics and volleyball games were not obscene.

In 2012 nudists still tackle the problem of bans against their material, but they are much more likely to come from the private sector.  Today, for example, we learned that ALL NUDIST had their account suspended by Facebook over a posting that the site’s “autobots” deemed offensive.  As AllNudist laments, there is no way to reach a live person to resolve the problem.  All that can be done is to wait out the suspension and wonder what does and doesn’t cross Facebook’s ever moving line of propriety.

Facebook recently bought Instagram, and it already seems that company has Stepped Up Enforcement of no-nudity policies. These may have been included in Terms of Service for some time, but have been taken to a new level. Photographers and artists have decried these moves, while the company claims they are necessary to comply with yet another company’s nudity policies: The iPhone app rules from Apple.

Bare Platypus also read this week that PayPal sent an EDICT out to eBook publishing companies warning that it would terminate credit-card processing privileges for any company carrying objectionable material.  One clever poster on a message board noted that if every offensive topic on the PayPal list got a book banned, then our Holy Bible would be first to go. 

Bare Platypus team members once approached some of the highest level employees of Pay Pal (e.g. the General Counsel and  the Director of Government Affairs) after meeting them at a legislative conference.  Despite laying out a case that had those individuals nodding their heads and following up with us in emails, there was nothing we could do to get policies--- like Pay Pal’s refusal to process funds for the Federation of Canadian Naturists’ subscriptions to Going Natural---reversed.

We agree with those who state that corporate policies are not, in the classic sense of the term, “censorship.”  They do not involve government action and violators of corporate policies do not face prison sentences.   However, the impact of “no nudity” and strict topic restrictions is no less pronounced when it comes to advancing the message of nudism.