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June 21, 2011 | Jim Killock

Secret website blocking proposals

The Open Rights Group has learnt that detailed website blocking proposals have been presented by rights holder groups to Ed Vaizey. 

The paper itself has not been published or circulated, despite requests to rights holder groups. The meeting on 15 June, where the paper was presented, was closed to ORG or any other rights group. Consumer Focus did attend, as the official “consumer” watchdog.

However, it is unclear if Consumer Focus or anyone else is able to show us the proposal. In essence, we have a secret website blocking proposal tabled by rights holders, that may become a “self-regulatory”, privatised, censorship platform for the UK.

It is unacceptable for trade groups and government to conduct policy in this way. Censorship proposals must be made and discussed in public. Many of us will oppose any censorship that impacts directly and widely on free expression. Governments would be wise to assess the strength of our arguments, rather than waiting for trade bodies to find their narrow, commercial arguments unravel once their proposals reach the light of day.

We have requested the document from DCMS and Consumer Focus, who were present, and have a meeting scheduled with DCMS officials. 

UPDATE: Consumer Focus have published a response to the secret paper. This says the core of the proposal is that:

the trade associations are proposing that the Applications Court of the High Court issues permanent injunctions on the basis that a ‘Council’ and ‘expert body’ have come to the view that the evidence submitted by copyright owners is valid and the blocking access to the website is appropriate.

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Comments (9)

  1. Denny:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    "It's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state."
    -- Bruce Schneier

    1. Azzy:
      Jun 22, 2011 at 03:06 PM

      @Bruce, you're a bit behind the times, this is a police state already, no doubt about that....Azzy

  2. cocoapony:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    So i guess westminster is now feeling arrogant enough not to even bother to maintain a pretence of democracy.

  3. live pakistan news:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 01:11 PM

    It is unacceptable for trade groups and government to conduct policy in this way.

  4. David J Mudkips:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 03:22 PM

    "Unacceptable" is one way to describe what the Rightsholder groups can do with their proposal

    "Illegal in 42 states" is another, as is "Pics of it would be worse than Goatse"

    This cannot be allowed to stand.

  5. Mark - ISPreview UK:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 07:30 PM

    Ultimately, whatever the government agrees, ISP's cannot physically remove or block content that doesn't exist within their own network, at least not without stopping all http (web) traffic. It's easy to circumvent blocks.

  6. MD1500:
    Jun 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    On top of this, BT and Talk Talk were denied their Digital Economy Act appeal. Sigh.

  7. adrian:
    Jun 22, 2011 at 04:45 PM

    mr david cameron you talk about labour being bad what happend to all the promises you made to the british people sad fact is no matter how much we argue and talk about this hes not going to listen he dont care about what people want all done again under secreative talks we cant let this happen.

  8. Simon Hopkins:
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    "...permanent injunctions on the basis that a ‘Council’ and ‘expert body’ have come to the view that the evidence submitted by copyright owners is valid..."

    Sounds like the rights holders want all those they decide to target to be deemed guilty, regardless.

    We are rights holders and we do not agree with this.

    Sounds too much like the old witch trails, float and your a witch, sink and drown, OK, you're dead innocent.

    How can we be sure this won't be used against legitimate competitors?




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