Net censorship

Net censorship is dangerously gaining ground. A growing number of democratic governments consider or implement schemes aimed at blocking access to specific websites sometimes without any judicial oversight. Established in the name of regulating “violent” or child abuse content, or controlling online gambling, these schemes are both inefficient and disproportionate. Website blocking is imprecise by nature, creating the risk of “collateral censorship” by wrongfully blocking perfectly legitimate websites.

Even when mandated by judicial authority, Net Filtering infringes on fundamental freedoms and harms the architecture of the free and open Internet by "balkanizing" the network. As it is gradually extended to new fields such as defamatory content and copyright infringements, it leads to generalised censorship and control of the Internet. To respect freedom of communications, alternative enforcement measures must be implemented, such as taking down content at the source or blocking financial streams in the case of commercial websites.

Timeline

  • February 16th, 2012: SABAM vs. Netlog decision by EUCJ, who rules that forcing a hosting service to monitor and filter online content violates EU law.
  • December 1st, 2011: Several French trade associations representing the film industry file for an injunction against ISPs and search engines, requesting the blocking of AlloStreaming websites.
  • November 24th, 2011: SABAM vs. Scarlet decision by the EUCJ, who rules that forcing ISPs to monitor and block their users' communication violates EU law.
  • October 27th, 2011: The EU Parliament adopts the amended framework decision on child abuse. These amendments delete the mandatory blocking proposed by the Commission and add safeguards for blocking measures implemented at the national level.
  • October 14th, 2011: The Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris issues a blocking injunction against Copwatch, a website charged by the French government with defaming and putting at risk the safety of police officers.
  • October 4th, 2011: The French National Assembly adopts in first reading a bill on consumer protection giving the administration the power to go to court to obtain the blocking of a website violating consumer law.
  • July 31th, 2011: The EU Commission consultation on the blocking of online gambling ends. In its response, La Quadrature urges the EU to ban website blocking.
  • June 15th, 2011: PC INpact reveals a draft executive order which would give the French government the power to arbitrarily censor any content or service on the Net.
  • February 8th, 2011: The French Parliament adopts the LOPPSI law, which includes the administrative filtering of child abuse content online.
  • September 28th, 2010: Hearing on the proposal for the directive on combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

Analysis

Quote

I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable.

Barack Obama - Remarks at Town Hall Meeting with future Chinese leaders, Nov 16th, 2009