EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström wants to introduce blocking on the Internet, to hide sites alleged to contain child pornography. Critics, like the Pirate Party, have warned about the slippery slope, and that once you have introduced blocking for one purpose, demands for blocking other types of sites, such as file sharing portals, will quickly follow. Commissioner Malmström has replied that this is about pictures of sexual child abuse only, and that she would ”personally very strongly oppose” any attempt to extend the blocking to other areas.
Two months ago we got an opportunity to see what Commissioner Malmström’s will mean in practice. An EU working party for law enforcement presented its idea to create a ”virtual Schengen border” on the basis of an EU black-list of sites to be blocked.
I put a question to the Commission about what Malmström had personally done to ”very strongly oppose” this idea. Now the answer has come (same blog post). So, what did she do? Absolutely nothing, it turns out.
”The Commission will not react to a presentation made by a national expert,” is Malmström’s answer now.
From the earlier promise to strongly oppose any ideas about extending the child abuse filter to other areas, all the Commission now says is that there are no current plans to do so. This makes me worried.
The European Parliament, the Commission, and the Council of Ministers have just reached a compromise on blocking of child abuse sites. It says that the member states ”may” (as opposed to ”shall”) block sites containing child pornography, and it introduces legal safeguards such as the right to legal appeal for anyone who has his site blocked, so the compromise as such is not altogether bad.
But before the European Parliament has even formally adopted the directive (which is expected to happen in September), those who want to block other things than child abuse pictures have already gone to work.
At a seminar I attended this week I heard two representatives from music collecting societies and rights holders’ organizations explain how file sharing sites ought to be blocked as well, in the same way as with child abuse sites. In the UK, the Motion Picture Association MPA has gone to court to force British Telecom to apply the child abuse filter to file-sharing sites, in order to block them.
This comes as no surprise. ”Start with child porn, then get the politicians to extend the blocking” has been IFPI’s child porn strategy all along. There will be many more suggestions to extend the blocking to other areas, once it is in place for child abuse pictures.