Saturday, 30 April 2011

EU wants to censor the internet

The EU has announced its intention to create a single EU cyberspace with Chinese-style censorship based on an EU blacklist of websites with "illicit contents".

Setting aside the sheer technological impracticality of censoring the internet for most of a continent, how do you deal with content that is illegal in one country but not another?  Any website that glorifies Nazism is illegal in Germany and Austria but not in England or Portugal.  Technically, a game such as Enemy Territory that allows you to win battles as Nazi's is illegal in Germany - would we find such games banned in the whole EU because it's illegal in Germany?

What about blasphemous websites that are illegal in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and Scotland but not in the rest of the EU?  We couldn't effectively censor blasphemous websites in the UK because blasphemy isn't illegal in England and Wales but is in Scotland.

How about libellous websites?  In England libel is a civil matter so the libellous website isn't illegal unless the libeller is sued but in Denmark it's a criminal offence and is illegal as soon as it's published.  Will potentially libellous websites be blocked across the EU because they're illegal in Denmark?

Without a common legal system and a common statute book, there is no way the internet could be censored with a single EU blacklist without depriving people of legal content because it's illegal in another country or exposing people to illegal content because it's legal in another country.

What we most definitely do not want and do not need is EU censorship of the internet.  It's all well and good saying "think of the children" and "it will combat fraud and terrorism" but it won't protect children and it won't stop fraud and terrorism because even in China, with the world's most oppressive internet censorship, pornography, pædophilia and fraud is still abundant on the internet.

The internet is one of the very few things that is in common ownership of the entire world's population and not the property of any state or corporation and it should stay that way.