Make Website Blocking Proposals Public, Say Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group have called on the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), MPA(A) and other rights groups to make their UK website blocking proposals public.

“Website blocking is a matter of significant public interest. We’re concerned that proposals for this censorship scheme are developing in the shadows,” writes peter Bradwell on ORG.

“So together with Article 19, Index on Censorship, and Global Partners we’re asking that the rights holders involved make the proposals public as soon as possible. They should be subject to a proper open debate.”

ORG have also placed a Freedom of Information request in order to obtain the details of previous meetings. That request can be seen here.

The ORG letter to the BPI is printed in full below:

Dear Geoff,

We understand that the BPI met with ISPs, Internet companies and government minister Ed Vaizey on Monday 4th April to discuss a private website blocking proposal in order to combat online copyright infringement.

As advocacy, consumer and public interest organisations, we are very concerned by this proposal. Website blocking is a form of censorship. Where decisions about blocking are unaccountable and when mistakes occur, there is the potential for infringement of citizens’ freedom of expression. Furthermore, such schemes jeopardise people’s rights to due process and the broader need for oversight and accountability.

In short, website blocks, if widespread and compulsory for the vast majority of UK citizens, is a law enforcement task. It is a function of wide public interest affecting fundamental rights. It is therefore an activity that should be subject to human rights considerations and an open public debate.

For these reasons, we are extremely keen to have early sight of any proposals being put forward to Internet Service Providers, government officials and ministers.

We understand that your organization is involved in drafting such a private website blocking proposal. We would like you to confirm that you will publicly release any such proposals as soon as you circulate them for comment from government and ISPs. We are also sending this request to UK Music, The Publishers Association, the FA Premier League and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Thank you,

Agnes Callamard
Executive Director
Article 19

Andrew Puddephatt
Director
Global Partners

Jo Glanville
Editor
Index on Censorship

Jim Killock
Executive Director
Open Rights Group

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