Call from Google to UK Government – open website-blocking debate to the public
July 7, 2011
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A couple of weeks back I wrote a blogpost titled UK Copyright lobby in talks with British Government on national web censorship Now Google is trying to get the UK government to open up these closed-door discussions on website censorship to the public and parliament.
Up until now, the discussions have been private and have been with communications providers and other copyrights holders to explore the idea of website blocking for those that may infringe copyright. Sarah Hunter, Google’s UK regulatory chief is calling for a public debate on the UK-wide site censorship issue. This backs up requests from Open Rights Groups who are making the same request.
“There are conversations that the government has instigated,” Sarah Hunter said at a Westminster Media Forum on Wednesday. “We’ve said from the outside that this isn’t something companies should make decisions on. People feel very strongly about how the internet is delivered to them.”
“If the government wants to make laws about blocking websites, then they need to discuss it with the public and parliament,” Hunter continued. “I hope that… everyone who has a stake in the internet can have their voice heard.”
It seems that the Google representative was something of a lone voice at the conference, which was dedicated to discussion of the forthcoming Communications Act revamp. Various commercial broadcasters being behind the idea which protects their investment in their current offerings. They went on to state that much copyright infringment occurs beyond current national juristiction. Hunter replied back that it was still questionable whether or not blocking those websites on a national level was “the right way” to fight infringement.
Currently the public is not getting to hear about what is being proposed other than what is coming out of socieal media sites such as the following posted to Twitter by Open Rights Group (ORG) chief Jim Killock on Wednesday:
“Interesting meeting with @edvaizey this morning about web censorship. Wanted to know who ORG is and what we would do about infringement.”