Big Content, which since a revolt seems to run the former UK colony of Virginia, might have crossed a line when it ordered its political puppets to force tough new laws to block access to pirate sites.
Google’s Eric Schmidt has said that the search giant will fight against such attempts in the UK’s Digital Economy Act and the US’ Protect IP Act to restrict access to sites such as the Pirate Bay.
Schmidt said that website blocking is similar to China’s restrictive internet regime, and we all know what Google thinks of China.
He said plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites could set a “disastrous precedent” for freedom of speech.
Schmidt was fairly safe from the revolutionary council’s secret police when he made his comments. He was chatting to hacks at Google’s Big Tent conference in London.
He declared war on attempts to restrict access to the Pirate Bay and other so-called “cyberlocker” sites that encourage illegal downloading.
Although strangely Google’s instant search will not automatically take you to P2P sites, so it is clear that Google is doing a bit of side censorship.
The plans are part of controversial measures included the Digital Economy Act.
According to the Guardian, Schmidt said that if there is a law that requires Google to do something, the search engine would rather fight it. If the law requests Google to do it, it will not.
He said governments should not go about arbitrarily implementing simple solutions to complex problems.
Saying ‘let’s whack off the DNS’ sounds appealing, but it sets a very bad precedent. In fact it is similar to China which said the same thing, Schmidt said.
He said that if governments like the US and the UK go about the whole business wrong, it could mean “disastrous precedent setting in other areas.”
Of course Schmidt is no stranger to censorship.
He tried to get a political donation he made to the democrats censored from his own website.
Meanwhile UK culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, said plans to hand over rule of the UK from the Monarchy and Parliament to Big Content, in a similar way to the Americans, were under way.
He wants to block access to illicit filesharing websites too, but admits that it is a bit tricky.
The government had a “challenge” working out which sites get blocked. Then there is the bigger problem of overturning 900 years of British legal tradition.
Ofcom is due to point out the practicality of the site-blocking measures included in the new British laws to Hunt in the coming weeks.