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Monday, July 21, 2014

Filtering Pretext

Filtering Pretext

Plan is to impose a “giant filter…(to) continuously monitor the child porn on the net, to show the politicians that filtering works,” that some form of censorship is okay. Once it’s established the entertainment industry would be able to demand additional filtering criteria, i.e. copyrighted material.

The entertainment industry is plotting a diabolical new tactic in the war against illegal file-sharing that even I must admit is ingenious. It involves using child pornography as a pretext for filtering the Internet.
“Child pornography is great,” International Federation of the Phonographic Industry lawyer Johan Schlüter told an audience recently a at Stockholm, Sweden seminar titled “Sweden ��” A Safe Haven for Pirates?”.
”It is great because politicians understand child pornography. By playing that card, we can get them to act, and start blocking sites. And once they have done that, we can get them to start blocking file-sharing sites.”
Exactly. It’s the same sort of tactic it used in the past to convince NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to muscle ISPs into discontinuing free Usenet access in order to “shut down major sources of online child pornography.”
“I applaud Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint for working with my office to address this growing problem,” he said at the time. “These companies are leading the industry and instituting new and innovative ways to stop their service from being used by people looking to distribute and access child pornography.  I call on all ISPs to follow their example and help deter the spread of online child porn.”
Never mind that it had little effect on the problem or that criminals simply switched to alternative methods. The truth didn’t seem to matter so as long as it gave Cuomo a chance to sound tough on crime. Child porn is something everybody hates, and it gives politicians an easy chance at favorable press and copyright holders a toehold on filtering the Internet.
”One day we will have a giant filter that we develop in close cooperation with IFPI and MPA,” continued Schlüter, apparently with a wide grin and sense of pride. “We continuously monitor the child porn on the net, to show the politicians that filtering works. Child porn is an issue they understand.”
Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament for Piratpartiet, Sweden, elected to the body after an outpouring of support from the country’s youth following the conviction of the Pirate Bay, was one of three pirates in attendance at the seminar, and describes the tactic best.
“Start with child porn, which everybody agrees is revolting, and find some politicians who want to appear like they are doing something. Never mind that the blocking as such is ridiculously easy to circumvent in less than 10 seconds. The purpose at this stage is only to get the politicians and the general public to accept the principle that censorship in the form of ”filters” is okay,” he says. “Once that principle has been established, it is easy to extend it to other areas, such as illegal file-sharing. And once censorship of the Internet has been accepted in principle, they can start looking at ways to make it more technically difficult to circumvent.”
He mentions how the tactic was already tested out years ago against the Pirate Bay. Back in 2007 the IFPI tried to get the BitTorrent tracker site included in a child porn blacklist maintained by police. The effort failed, but it was a shocking harbinger of things to come.
“If the police would find anything wrong – shouldn’t they first contact us, then bring us in for questioning regarding the content, ask for our help or bring us to court for our wrongdoings?”
Not once did authorities try to contact the Pirate Bay to verify the claims nor did they even have proof that child porn was available on the site.
“The big film and record companies want censorship of the net, and they are perfectly willing to cynically use child porn as an excuse to get it,” continues Engström.
Child porn has also been used as a pretext for filtering in Australia where that country’s Broadband Minister, Stephen Conroy, cited it as the reason for a voluntary Internet filtering regime. It quickly became mandatory and morphed to include , video games, gambling, and other “inappropriate content.” It’s a filtering proposal that critics pointed out, and much to the delight of despots everywhere, would be even “stricter than Iran.
In short, it’s up to us to keep politicians honest and informed about any efforts to filter the Internet. The public may not have the financial resources of multinational entertainment corporations, but they do have a far more powerful weapon – their vote. Warn politicians that you’re watching and educate friends and family members before it’s too late. Perhaps even join a local Pirate Party.
Either way, act before it’s too late.
Stay tuned.
jared@zeropaid.com