Saturday, 26 March 2011

Web blocking, Digital Economy Act and the judicial review

I've just written to my MP, David Miliband, about the impending Plan B for web-blocking. The Open Rights Group are currently campaigning on this issue and they've made it very easy for you to contact your MP too.  If you want to get involved, then click through this link and write to them (there's a pre-written email included but you can personalise it if you wish).  My letter is below:

With Internet providers like BT and Talk Talk demanding a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act this week, it has been reported that ministers are looking for an alternate means to block web access.  According to the Guardian, ITPro and other news sources this week, Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt are still considering web blocking as a serious option to tackle “illegal downloading” and copyright infringement 
Web blocking to combat copyright infringement is yet again being pressed forwards by big copyright lobbyists. Just like their previous suggestions, like cutting off people from the Internet, it isn't the answer. If anything, it will create a growth in circumvention technologies and services which may end up in a high volume of web traffic becoming encrypted or proxy services being used - which might hinder the hard work of our security services.
Music and film companies can already apply to courts to block specific instances of copyright infringement. They can also take the sites to court, and frequently do. They can even take individuals to court, and do. 
Web blocking sounds like a simple idea: but the reality is that copyright infringement is complicated and needs proving properly before a company is dealt with through a legal process. And what's more, such powers already exist, so we can safely assume whatever is being suggested will be easier for copyright holders and harder for innocent people to avoid harm.
And it won’t work. Website blocking can be easily circumvented by anyone remotely determined, but would be very likely to create means for competitors to harm each other and for companies to repress unwanted speech.
If you want to enjoy your current web freedoms then get involved