City Of London Police Fail And Censor Their Way To A Lot More UK Taxpayer Money
from the censor-your-way-to-the-top dept
We’ve written plenty about the City of London Police and its Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), which despite an official jurisdiction covering a square mile of London, has made it clear that it considers itself Hollywood’s private police force worldwide when it comes to stopping copyright infringement online. PIPCU has basically been a bumbling, censoring mess from the beginning. A year ago, it started ordering domain registrars to kill off websites with no court order and no legal basis — demands that actually violated ICANN’s policies. For registrars that ignored those baseless, bogus censorship demands, PIPCU started sending ridiculous threats claiming that they were engaged in criminal behavior. Of course, PIPCU’s understanding of both the internet and “criminal” laws is suspect. The head of the unit, Adrian Leppard, claims that “the Tor” is “90% of the internet” and “is a risk to society.” Another top officer, Andy Fyfe, somehow believes that if PIPCU isn’t running around censoring sites there would be anarchy online.
Of course, it’s not just crazy statements and bogus threats. PIPCU is actually causing real damage. It has built a secret pirate blacklist over which there is no transparency, no due process and no appeal. On some of those sites, it is injecting advertisements that are mockably ridiculous (though the injections are potentially illegal in their own right). Much more troubling is that PIPCU has been completely shutting down websites and privacy services with no legal basis at all. And, when they did actually arrest someone — claiming “industrial scale” infringement — the eventual details were so weak that the case was completely dropped in a matter of weeks.
Given the Keystone e-Cops nature of the City of London Police’s PIPCU, you’d think that, maybe, just maybe, it would be time to disband PIPCU and let the City of London Police get back to protecting London’s banks (its other main pasttime). Instead, the UK government has just given PIPCU a raise, dumping £3 million of UK taxpayer money into the group to continue its bumbling, censoring, technologically clueless ways. While I’m sure this makes some increasingly obsolete gatekeepers happy, it’s hard to see how this helps content creators or the public in any way at all.