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Trying to block websites is dumb.

March 13, 2010

The Orwellian “Digital Economy Bill”  continues through the Lords and piles more bad law on top of the original bad law. It’s latest dumb wheeze is to have ISPs block sites that allegedly are breaching copyright.

Why is  this dumb?

It will be used to stifle free speech. That is not dumb, that is “just” undemocratic, something you would expect in a totalitarian regime rather than one claiming to be a free democracy. So a good reason to oppose it but not in itself dumb, evil would be more correct.

It is dumb because it won’t stop copyright infringement. It won’t even slow it down.

Well in other news thanks to this free democracy’s libel laws as pointed out in the Guardian today if you are in Britain you can no longer access the National Enquirer website. The National Enquirer is so concerned about the libel laws in this country they are blocking access from the U.K. Other US more prestigious  publications like the New York Times  are threatening to follow suit. This is another reason you should  support the campaign for libel reform and sign the petition.

So how effective is the National Enquirer’s block?

For the technically savy, which includes any child trying to get round their schools firewall,  not at all. There are hundreds of proxy servers out there that you can use to anonymise your access to sites and get around these restrictions.  Whether the National Enquirer’s attempts make if safe from UK Libel laws I don’t know but I would be surprised if it protects them from the accusation even if later they go on to successfully defend it, the cost of the defence will still leave them out of pocket.

So to be effective the Digital Economy Bill’s the ISP’s will have to block all the proxy servers on the internet or have them join in on the censorship.

Once they have blocked them they then have to block or regulate every site offering a Virtual Private Network service, google translate and other translation websites and I won’t even mention The Onion Router.

The casualties of this Legislation already include public wifi hotspots, customers who don’t use a secure wifi connection (which from where I sit seems to include every BT home hub in the country, all the I have ever seen listed on a wifi scan use WEP security which is trivial to crack, which will leave the wifi owner accused of copyright theft when in practice is could be anyone).

None of this will achieve the goal of reducing copyright infringement or in anyway help the digital economy or for that matter the analogue economy.

Everyone should oppose this bill. Write to your MP.


From → Politics

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