Free Speech

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
censorship, free speech, newzbin, uk

Companies:
bt, mpaa



UK Court Upholds Its First Web Censorship Order: BT Has 14 Days To Block Access To Newzbin2 & Gets To Pay For The Privelege

from the that's-one-slippery-slope dept

Back in July, we noted that a UK court ordered ISP BT to begin censoring the web, beginning with a blockade of Newzbin2, which the MPAA has been trying to destroy. After a user petitioned the court to seek alternatives to censorship, the court rejected that request and has issued a ruling giving BT just 14 days to figure out how to block users from accessing Newzbin. Not surprisingly, the entertainment industry is thrilled. Any new opportunity to put the entire burden on ISPs is one that it celebrates. Why should the entertainment industry have to adapt to a changing world when it can run to court, and have the court force tech companies to pretend that new technologies don't exist.

A few scary specifics in the full ruling, starting with this: the expense to implement the blocking is entirely dumped on BT. The judge seems to say that since BT is a commercial enterprise, and profits from people using its services to infringe, it must pay. That's ridiculous. Just because people use BT's service to break the law, shouldn't make BT responsible for the costs of stopping user activities.

Next up, rather than just block URLs, BT has to block the URLs using intrusive, privacy-destroying deep packet inspecting... and "re-route" IP addresses. The studios and the MPAA are apparently allowed to just keep submitting any URLs or IP addresses it finds that lead to Newzbin, and get them easily added to the blocklist. And, at Hollywood's urging, the judge left that expansive, such that even if a URL or IP address point to other legal content, along with Newzbin, those URLs and IPs can be censored.

Finally, and most amazingly, the judge seems to admit the court's technological cluelessness in admitting that it did not realize that a full on IP block (rather than re-routing) might lead to overblocking of innocent sites. And yet it still went forward, despite this rather blatant admission of ignorance.

And with this, the UK goes one step closer to more blatant web censorship.

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  1. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 26 Oct 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: So, just "route around" it! Where are your solutions when needed?

    > Well, someone has to pay.

    And it doesn't even occur to you that Big Copy-- the ones pushing for this whole thing, after all-- should be the ones to do so?

    > I'd guess the expenses are small

    If they're so small, then Big Copy shouldn't have a problem paying them.

    > and in /any/ event gov't can just nationalize the
    > operation

    Sure, I suppose the government could resort to outright theft. I'd hardly call that a rational solution, however.

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