In 2007, a year after the Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay’s servers in Stockholm, there was a seminar in the same city titled ”Sweden — A Safe Haven for Pirates?” There, in a room filled with like-minded souls, Johan Schlüter of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group took the stage with the ultimate plan to curb piracy.
”Child pornography is great,” he said enthusiastically. ”It is great because politicians understand child pornography. By playing that card, we can get them to act, and start blocking sites. And once they have done that, we can get them to start blocking file sharing sites.”
Where one would have expected an averse reaction from the public, cheers started to fill the entire room instead. For years the music and movie industries have tried to convince politicians that piracy was killing their businesses, without much result. Using child porn as an excuse could just be what they needed for an extra push.
”One day we will have a giant filter that we develop in close cooperation with IFPI and MPA. We continuously monitor the child porn on the net, to show the politicians that filtering works. Child porn is an issue they understand,” Johan Schlüter told his fellow attendees.
In the months and years that followed, the pro-copyright lobby continued to put pressure on local governments and courts to disarm The Pirate Bay. In Denmark, they had some success in court as a local ISP was ordered to block access to The Pirate Bay.
Increasingly, the child porn argument is used all around the world to get governments to implement state run Internet filters. “The big film and record companies want censorship of the net, and they are perfectly willing to cynically use child porn as an excuse to get it,” Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom writes in brilliant a blog post discussing the issue.
Engstrom’s comments are a response to the plans of Swedish EU commissioner Cecilia Malmström to build a European Internet filter. As Engstrom also notes, a filter is only going to hide the real problem while the real offenders can easily bypass the restrictions. Wouldn’t it be much better to track down the sources spreading the material and throw them in jail?
Wouldn’t that be great?