Piracy and freedom on the internet

Over the last several years, combating piracy has been at the forefront of government objectives, at least in the USA and the UK. Speaking as a citizen of the UK, the effects can’t really be felt unless you intend to break the law (steal some movies over the internet or something). The concern, however, is how far will it go? Will these new obsessive objectives extend beyond their intentions and impede on ones free speech and does anybody really have the right to try and tame the internet?

Several high profile actions have occurred in the UK recently, most notably the requirement of ISPs to blacklist particular websites on order of the Courts. These orders are primarily issued to prevent the theft of intellectual property but as noted on Wired.co.uk’s take on the situation, these orders are influenced solely by private corporations and associations such as the BPI. This is, of course, a major blow to the piracy societies on the internet but it is in no means an end to the piracy problem – just a slight setback. It is also incredibly undemocratic. We have no explicit law being broken other than a breach of copyright and yet unelected persons and bodies are directly influencing the outcome – taking their case to court and seemingly having the courts issue orders left, right and centre that demand that ISPs block the stated websites with no input from society.

I don’t like it but I do understand. The censorship of pornographic and otherwise adult material is also kind of understandable. I just find it hard to wrap my head around any form of censorship, it shouldn’t be happening.

Take a look at this news article which describes David Cameron’s plans to require all ISPs to censor pornographic material to ‘protect’ children. Fair enough. But it’s a major invasion of privacy, for one, as internet customers would be required to request the removal of the filter from their ISP account if they so wish to view such material thus exposing their private habits and/or interests and two – it could get a lot more out of hand. It’s the start of censorship. These internet filters are brazenly implemented with full public knowledge but do the public really understand the gravity of what is happening? Such filters can just as easily be used to target anything the government deem unfit for society to view, irrregardless of whether or not the content is immoral. More over, individuals should be allowed to access content as they see fit. Once upon a time the internet was a free place and, thankfully, it still is for the most part but the potential for this to just wash away in the blink of an eye is upon us. It’s like Pandora’s box has been opened and we just have to wait and see what’s next.

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