BPI pushes ISPs for more web censorship

Further plans from the BPI to force ISPs to block a range of file sharing sites have been branded “frustrating” and “extreme” by the Pirate Party UK and the Open Rights Group.

The comments from the Pirate Party UK and Open Rights Group (ORG) come after the recording industry organisation put proposals in place to force the likes of BT, Virgin and TalkTalk to block torrent sites Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy.

The motion follows a successful win by the BPI, which along with nine recording labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner successfully forced ISPs to block The Pirate Bay earlier this year.

Although the ISPs have so far refused to comply with the new orders, rights groups have said they will have to if a court order sides with the music industry organisation, which is pushing for a decision by Christmas.  

The courts need to slow down and be careful about their approach, Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told TechEye.

“Web blocking is an extreme response,” Killock said. “The orders are often indefinite and open ended, and will be blocking legitimate uses.

“The BPI and the courts need to slow down and be very careful about this approach,” he said. “The BPI seem to be trying to speed things up and that is not good. It will lead to carelessness and unneeded harms.”

Killock warned that censorship is a dangerous game to play, looking at the wider picture. “As an approach, censorship is a bad idea,” Killock said. “It leads to more censorship, and is unlikely to solve the problem it seeks to address”.

The Pirate Party UK published a statement on its website denouncing the moves. Leader Loz Kaye said, commenting to TechEye, that watching an industry continuously shaped by the content industry’s jackboot is frustrating.

“It’s hugely frustrating that our digital and cultural policy continues to be hi-jacked by narrow focused lobbyists like the BPI,” Kaye said. “We should be supporting digital business, not burdening it with demands to carry out censorship.”

“We should be dealing with the devastating effects of the slashing cuts to the Arts Council, rather than trying to shore up commercial interests,” Kaye said, adding that it’s difficult to see where the campaign of censorship will end.

“The government promised not to carry out the site blocking provisions of the Digital Economy Act, but that pledge looks worthless now,” he said. “Until the Coalition acts, I’ll continue to believe they are happy to allow site blocking. The industry lobby has never been able to set out a clear, positive, achievable goal for restrictions. That is why they never seem satisfied.

“Everything we have seen up to now suggests they will be calling for ever more draconian interference threatening the digital economy, our personal freedoms and privacy,” Kaye said.