Dutch Gov't Speaks Out Against Exporting Internet Filters; Then Introduces National Internet Filter
from the you've-got-to-be-kidding dept
On the same day that Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Verhagen announced efforts to prevent the export of internet filters to repressive regimes, State Secretary of Justice and Security Teeven announced the introduction of the national blacklisting of websites. The press conference expressly ‘filtered out’ critical Dutch civil rights organization Bits of Freedom and consumer rights organization Consumentenbond.
The Minister of Economic Affairs stated Monday that companies should support internet freedom and that the danger of exporting filters to repressive regimes is that they can be used to withhold information from civilians. A good start of the day for Dutch cyberactivists, breathing a sigh of relief to see that the government actually seems to understand what they?re talking about.
However, later the very same day the State Secretary of Justice and Security announced a ‘download ban’ making the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material illegal. Although it was stated that the privacy of internet users who only download limited amounts of copyrighted material from unauthorized sources is protected, the actual definition of ‘limited’ has not been given.
Whereas a previous parliamentary commission told the entertainment industry that they should innovate before any such ban would be introduced, this government decision turns it around, saying they’ll make it illegal first in order to stimulate motivation.
Of course there are a lot of parties who have criticized these plans. Holland’s biggest consumer rights organization, Consumentenbond, has claimed that the law doesn’t protect users from getting sued for downloading. In the past they have argued for an internet levy and making both uploading as well as downloading legal.
Dutch civil rights organization Bits of Freedom argues that the state secretary’s plans are aimed at repressing individual internet users, since it is already possible to prosecute platforms that spread files commercially. Both Bits of Freedom, as well as the Consumentenbond, were subsequently banned from the state secretary’s press conference (or filtered, if you will).
Some bloggers even warn that the system of blacklisting websites and adequate enforcement of other parts of this proposal are only possible through total government control of the national web traffic.
Instead of forcing copyright monopolies to adjust to the realities of recent technological developments, the government has opted to try to protect them, while at the same time extending their own power and control over society and the internet. Instead of spending these resources to stimulate innovation, they’ll now be spent to limit freedoms and put a further strain on the justice system.
Meanwhile nothing will change. The traditional concept of copyrights is dated and has to be altered drastically. We’re only just entering an age where anyone can make a copy of nearly any type of information or culture at basically zero cost and effort. Legislature or no legislature, the giants of copyrights will crumble. Technological progress is relentless. Which is why it’s even more sad that laws like these are introduced.