If ACTA Gets Approved, Expect China To Use It As Justification For Censorship
from the just-watch-and-see... dept
While one of ACTA’s biggest supporters, Rep. Howard Berman, is now pushing for laws to stop companies aiding in China’s censorship, he might want to consider that a better plan would be to back down on ACTA. If ACTA passes, it seems quite likely that China would then use it as justification for its own “great firewall” censorship program. Already, we’re seeing that China is looking to use plans for internet filters in Australia to its own advantage by comparing that system to its own — and you can bet China would be thrilled to be able to use a US-backed concept to support its continued censorship.
In the past, China has justified its internet censorship by saying things along the lines of, “well, you in the US have laws against obscenity online, and what we’re doing is passing laws against the type of content we feel does not belong online either.” But something like ACTA could make the case much stronger for the Chinese. That’s because ACTA and China’s censorship have a lot in common, in that they’re both plans that involve vague secondary liability aspects applied to ISPs. That is, China’s Great Firewall works by the government telling ISPs that they might get in trouble if anyone says anything “bad” online, and are given just vague rules about how to stop the bad. Thus, the ISPs respond by being overly aggressive in their enforcement. Similarly, ACTA hints at vague secondary liability safe harbors needed for an ISP not to get blamed for copyright infringement — and, as we’ve seen, when such vague rules were implemented in South Korea, service providers start getting overly aggressive in banning things as well.
So if Howard Berman really wants to crack down on Chinese censorship online, perhaps he shouldn’t be working so hard towards giving them more justification for China’s actions.