South Korea Wants To Allow Its Copyright Protection Agency To Block Sites Allegedly Holding Infringing Material — No Judicial Review Required
from the Chinafication-of-the-Internet dept
These are dark days for freedom on the Internet. As Cory Doctorow wrote in a recent post on Boing Boing: “We are witnessing the realtime, high-speed Chinafication of the western internet.” Country after country is adopting laws that undermine freedom of speech, usually in the name of “enforcing” copyright, which is apparently more important. Add South Korea to that list of shame. The government there is proposing to give its existing Copyright Protection Agency the power to cut off access to Web sites that it says have infringing material. A new campaign, “Stop Internet Censoring“, has been launched to fight the plans:
The censoring proposal is a move to strengthen the Korean three-strikes-out rule and implement the “website shutting down” obligation under the US-Korea FTA. Governmental measures to block, without any prior judicial scrutiny, access to foreign websites that host illegal information is not new. For several years from 1990s, the communication authorities have blocked and filtered contents deemed illegal and violating social norms, including those violating others’ copyright. But the proposed bill is new in that the copyright protection agency holds a power to block website access.
The campaign notes that the idea of giving South Korea’s Copyright Protection Agency this new power is fundamentally flawed. Blocking would be handled by a body whose mandate is biased in favor of the interests of copyright industries, rather than on striking a balance between protection and dissemination of works under copyright. Moreover, the new blocking measure would not be limited to Web sites hosting allegedly infringing materials:
It also covers any information that can infringe any right protected under the Copyright Act, which may include hyperlink and search result. It further includes computer programs or information that may help circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs).
The bill is currently waiting for the approval of South Korean government’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the final hurdle before a final vote in the country’s parliament. The campaign urges people to contact the committee members, and provides links to their social media accounts as a way of doing that.