Google Criticized Internet Filtering
Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, claimed that the practice of web filtering can be compared to the “Great Firewall” of China. In addition, the censoring can be used by other countries as an excuse to block online services they dislike for some reason.
While the UK’s organization Ofcom is investigating whether or not Internet filtering can even effectively work in practice, Google claims they are determined to oppose any requests to introduce such system.
The UK’s Digital Economy Act would demand Internet service providers to restrict access to websites if their substantial portion violates copyright. Three months ago, Culture Secretary asked the outfit named Ofcom to review the provision in order to find out if Internet filtering is even possible in practice.
Meanwhile, Google’s executive chairman announced at their Big Tent conference in London that the search giant would oppose all the attempts to introduce filtering systems in any country, since such practice would become a “disastrous precedent” for freedom of Internet users. Although this suggestion seems like a very appealing solution, it would most likely set a bad precedent.
The main reason for criticism of Internet blocking is freedom of speech. Indeed, if the United States and the United Kingdom start filtering or seizing domain names, why don’t repressive regimes like Iran and China do the same? Even Turkey has been criticized a lot for blocking YouTube for a few years now.
Despite the fact that online copyright violation may affect the economies of the US and the UK, the result of web censoring would never justify the means. The issue becomes even more complicated when it comes to the decision of which websites to block. Nevertheless, the government claims that its plans are right on schedule, with Ofcom promising to finish the feasibility study in a few weeks.
As for the United States, their plans for Internet censoring are still in the early stages. A week ago the US lawmakers submitted the “PROTECT IP” Act, which would provide the Department of Justice with the authority to force American-based 3rd parties like broadband providers, advertising networks, payment processors, and search engines to filter infringing services or stop doing business with them.