March 15, 2011

Congress Wants Google to Censor Search Results, ISPs to Block Sites -- To Protect Hollywood?

"Another witness, analyst Daniel Castro of The Information Technology &
Innovation Foundation, gave Conyers some of the specifics he was
looking for: Congress should simply create blacklist of sites, then
force ISPs to block them and tell search engines to remove them from
lists of search results."
- Full Article

Greetings. While the particular idiocy represented by the quote above is somewhat different than the specific topic I discussed recently in Deleting History: Why Governments Demand Google Censor the Truth, many of the same factors are in play.

It's clear that the U.S. is willing to use unilateral powers to try shut down domain names (regardless of whether the associated sites are hosted in the U.S. or not), wants an ISP site blacklist, and wants to tell Google and other search engines what they can or cannot show in their search results. And since Congress is now raising protecting the entertainment industry to the same level of criticality as
stopping c-porn, we can be sure that Congress will also try to prevent any public lists from being created of what exactly has been blocked. It's sort of like "double secret probation" from "Animal House" -- but totally unfunny.

Even if Google and ISPs went along with this (likely after significant litigation, and assuming that courts confirmed this anti-American censorship), Congress' purpose will fail. The "pirate sites" in question will move further underground, but will always be able to find hosting. There will always be sites that tell where to find the associated links. And while Congress may recursively attempt to shut down sites that link to sites that themselves link to sites that contain pirate materials -- and so on -- it will be a losing battle -- made all the more fascinating to larger numbers of Internet users by the additional subterfuge involved.

But of course, Congress isn't only interested in blacklisting pirate sites and sites that help users find pirate sites. What Congress really wants is a flexible ISP and search engine blacklisting regime that could be employed to try block any content that Congress designates as undesirable or inappropriate. You can be sure that talk of c-porn and piracy is merely the foot in the door.

The vast majority of Internet users don't look at c-porn, and they don't download pirated movies. Freedom-loving Internet users around the world should be gearing up now to fight Congress (and their own domestic governments) that are desperately trying to mold the Internet into the ultimate mechanism of government-mandated information control and censorship.


Posted by Lauren at March 15, 2011 01:34 AM | Permalink
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