Perspectives of Internet blocking in UK following US model

By EDRi · July 13, 2011

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Deutsch: [Schöne Aussichten für britische Netzsperren nach amerikanischem Vorbild |]

During his speech at the Intellect Consumer Electronics conference on 5 July
2011, UK culture minister Ed Vaizey announced that a movement in the States
for a voluntary filtering by ISPs would probably bring up changes in UK as

“A voluntary agreement may come out of the US and if that does happen it
could be a game-changer,” said the minister who added: “If people are
streaming live football without permission we should look at ways we can
stop them. People have the right to earn money from content they create.”

Until now, UK ISPs have shown reluctance to Internet filtering and following
a discussion with the main ISPs, Vaizey considered their attitude rather
“odd”, especially that of BT and TalkTalk, which have failed in their legal
challenge to the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The DEA is aimed at preventing
piracy via peer-to-peer file-sharing but also has provisions to block access
to some websites and allows content providers to apply for an injunction
against ISPs that do not restrict access to sites with alleged illegal

In a meeting with EDRi-member ORG on 6 July 2011, Ed Vaizey recognised the
importance of softer measures and mentioned the IWF (Internet Watch
Foundation) as an acceptable form of website blocking.

What the Minister fails to acknowledge is that the industry and
copyright holders push for a controlled censored environment through
Internet blocking.

For instance, the Motion Picture Association has just taken BT, the largest
UK ISP, to court over linking to members-only index site Newzbin, asking for
the blocking of the site.

The MPA is challenging BT under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act which gives the High Court the power to grant an injunction
against a service provider if it had “actual knowledge” that someone has
used its service to infringe copyright. The respective section implements
the requirements of the EU Copyright Directive stating that countries must
ensure that copyright holders have the right to apply for injunctions
against intermediaries, such as ISPs, whose services are used to infringe

Also, the DEA requires Ofcom, the UK media regulator, to write new rules
governing copyright infringements over the Internet. In 2010 Ofcom drafted
plans to force the ISPs to hand over to copyright holders details of
customers who were illegally sharing copyrighted material in order to give
the copyright holders the possibility to take action. In case the Government
enacts this plan, ISPs might find themselves in the position to cut their
users’ internet access if they are found to be illegally downloading
copyrighted material.

According to a recently leaked report, copyright holders will present
proposals to set up a voluntary code to deal with online copyright
infringement, including the suggestion that an “expert body” should decide
if websites should be blocked and ask the courts to issue injunctions
ordering ISPs to prevent their customers from visiting the infringing sites.

UK looks to US on piracy blocking (5.07.2011)

Meeting with Ed Vaizey: website blocking and censorship (7.07.2011)

Film industry asks court to force BT to cut off access to alleged
copyright-infringing website (30.06.2011)

EFF: The Content Industry and ISPs Announce a “Common Framework for
Copyright Alerts”: What Does it Mean for Users? (7.07.2011)