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November 29, 2011 | Peter Bradwell

Self-regulation / private policing: not just a UK problem

I posted a week or so ago about the latest round of discussions hosted by DCMS regarding 'self-regulation' and Internet policy.  In addition to ongoing discussions about a new, faster scheme for website blocking, there are now plans proposed by rights holders for search engines to 'self-regulate' in the name of copyright enforcement too. 

The UK is not alone facing this issue. Any country exploring how to develop their policy for the Internet will struggle to work out what mix of legislation and 'cooperation' / self-regulation / private policing to pursue. So far, it seems that digital rights and the interests of consumers and citizens come last on the list of problems that policy makers consider when thinking these questions through. The risks of self-regulation are pretty obvious where the relationships involved in such a scheme, for example between rights holders and search engines, affect basic freedoms and rights by giving power over what people can access away too cheaply. 

So it's good to see that the MEP Marietje Schaake is hosting an interesting looking event in the European Parliament next week on this very issue. It will look at what "'self-regulation' and 'cooperation of service providers and rights holders' mean in practice." If you're not in Brussels but want to follow the event, you can watch a live stream here).

Joe McNamee from EDRi, who produced the report "The slide from "self-regulation" to corporate censorship", will be talking on the panel, and other talks are promised from:

  • Werner Stengg, DG Markt, Head of Unit ‘Online Services’, about the forthcoming initiatives from the Commission,
  • Nicole Dewandre, DG Information Society, Advisor on Stakeholder Issues
  • Els Hendrix, Council of Europe expert, dealing with international (new) media and content issues
  • Chris Ancliff, General Counsel, Warner Music Group, representing record companies 
  • Patrick Ager, ECSA, representing composers and songwriters
  • Jermyn Brooks, GNI, representing tech companies who respect fundamental rights worldwide
  • Malcolm Hutty, EuroISPA, representing intermediary companies online

ORG will be there, with the hope of bringing news of the variously mad, entertaining and unworkable proposals for self-regulations schemes being discussed here in the UK. 

Meanwhile, we're on the hunt for the proposals discussed in the most recent roundtables hosted by the Minister Ed Vaizey, regarding how search engines should join with some 'self-regulation'. We've submitted an FoI. We'll update you as we learn more. 

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Comments (2)

  1. Alex:
    Dec 07, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    The privatisation of justice is a very ancient temptation. An example is 'Dr Bonham's Case' of 1610 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Bonham%27s_Case), in which Parliament granted the College of Physicians the right to licence medical practitioners, and imprison those who practised without license. Justice Coke struck down the law, on the grounds that 'No-one can be a judge in his own case'. A historian of law would no doubt find many examples, which may be of use to us.

  2. Alex:
    Dec 07, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    BTW, the captcha always rejects hwn I use firefox 3.6.24. Works in Chromium.



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