Google has made an interesting statement on their blog. It is not one that will surprise anyone or something that is a revelation, but it was interesting to see Google (who is under pressure from the government on many fronts) actually spelling it out. Oh yeah, the statement is basically saying that it is not just countries like China that are trying to censor the web pages available on the internet; it is democratic governments too (including the US).
In every occasion if you dig deep enough you will find the reasons for someone’s actions, even if they seem completely random. For a while now we have watched as congress has pushed one stupid internet control law after another. For many (us included) we have felt that this was at the request of the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders. After all the measures and consequences in the laws were geared toward them and helping them to “prevent piracy”.
In what can only be described as a “the pot calling the kettle” style move corporations, the US Congress and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) have all gotten together to keep the Internet Free. When we first read the headlines about the UN having a conference in Dubai to discuss the possibility of moving governance of some aspects of the Internet to them (actually the ITU) we chuckled a little bit. When we heard the garbage spewing from members of congress and the FCC we began to outright laugh.
The EU Parliament will be voting on ACTA this week. If you have been living under a rock lately ACTA (Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement) is a US backed bit of legislation that wants to establish better control over the internet for copyright holders. The agreement has been the subject of controversy not only for the oppressive terms, but also for the secretive way in which it has been presented. In many cases only certain members of a country’s government have been given access why the copyright lobbies have had full access and a hand in setting it up.
In a world (insert dramatical music here) where the forces of greed, evil and bad comb-overs are plotting to control the very lines of communication used for free speech there stands one group of rag tag heroes ready to fight them. Coming this summer … Ok so enough of the cheesy intro. After the headaches and pains of fighting both SOPA and PIPA some of the core activist groups (activists for a free and open internet) have decided to get together and create a method for notifying website owners that are interested in fighting this type of legislation when a new bill comes out.
So Google is now adding a listing of takedown requests to their transparency report to show that they are working with copyright holders and the government in the war on piracy. If you remember back in the days of SOPA and PIPA Google was one of the only companies that was allowed to speak at hearings about the terribly written law. At the time Google was accused of only being interested in search revenues and of hindering efforts to combat piracy online.
Remember SOPA and how much of a stir it caused? Well it seems that we may face another round in the ring with a new law championed by the MPAA. At least that is what the indicators are at this point. We mentioned when SOPA was shelved that this was a distinct possibility and one that we should watch out for. This was right after MPAA CEO Chris Dodd made his now infamous threats to members of congress about not being there when they needed him.
ACTA is in the news again today as we hear from more than a few people on the implications of the treaty and what consequences it might have. Interestingly it looks like ACTA was originally designed to handle the large scale manufacture and distribution of counterfeit physical products (for prescription drugs actually). Some have suggested that the import of items (like the fake Gucci and Fendi bags you can find for sale on some street corners…) has a drastic impact on the sales and profit of those companies. This is the same logic that is put forward for the theft of virtual property like IP, music, and videos.
It looks like the UK is trying to move even further down the slope of censorship. The UK Government and ISPs operating inside the country are in talks to find a way to block pornography. They are working on a system that would allow “parents” the option to Opt-in to an ISP provided blocking system when they signed up for service. This is to prevent children from viewing images and videos on the Internet of a sexual nature.
SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TIPA, and more acronyms than most people care to think about are what is in the news. All of these pieces of legislation are designed with one thought in mind; to control the Internet. Now this may sound like little more than a crazed conspiracy theory, but it is not. You see right now the Internet represents a real threat to many businesses (and governments).