At Least One Japanese ISP Gets A Jump Start On The Government's Unconstitutional Site-Blocking Plans

from the what's-the-rush dept

You will recall that we recently discussed the odd announcement by the Japanese government that it would seek to start a site-blocking policy to prevent copyright infringement. The announcement itself was odd for several reasons. First and foremost, this exact kind of government censorship is specifically forbidden in Japan’s constitution except to “avert present danger”, the context for which normally applies to real-life violence, the taking of liberty, or the destruction or taking of property. To be clear, the exception has never been used for anything remotely like this. But that’s not all. The announcement was also strange because pretty much everyone agrees that the government is looking to subvert its own constitution to protect the anime and manga industries, which is both almost certainly the most Japan sentence ever written and completely unnecessary given the that the anime and manga industries are both massive and growing. None of that sounds like a “present danger.”

And, yet, it seems like at least one Japanese ISP has decided to get a head start on all of this.

The government didn’t have to wait long for a response. The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced yesterday that it will begin blocking access to sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., will block access to three sites previously identified by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a particularly large following in Japan. NTT said that it will also restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. The company added that at least in the short-term, it will prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking.

If nothing else did, this sudden move by NTT ought to demonstrate to everyone in Japan just how dangerous these sorts of ham-fisted government attempts at policy are. This sort of bowing to government pressure, especially when that pressure is of an unconstitutional nature, doesn’t typically find a home in democratic nations. That’s all the more true when we’re discussing a form of censorship. It’s also more than a little jarring to watch a private sector industry carry out government aims as an “emergency” with the excuse essentially of “legislating democratically takes too long.”

And, while we made this point in our original post on this topic, let’s reiterate that cracking this censorious door open an inch will lead to the government barging straight through it.

To date, just three sites have been named by the government as particularly problematic but it’s now promising to set up a consultation on a further response. A bill will also be submitted to parliament to target sites that promote links to content hosted elsewhere, an activity which is not illegal under current law.

Read that last bit again and understand what it means: the Japanese government will target websites for censorship that are not breaking Japanese law. If that doesn’t terrify Japan’s public, then it damn well should.

Meanwhile, other ISPs in the country have taken a slightly more measured approach, stating that they will consult with experts on what to do. That’s certainly better than NTT’s approach, except that it still falls short of what every ISP ought to be saying: “No, this is against the law.”

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Companies: ntt

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