Independent internet watchdog proposed to blacklist web sites

By Derek du Preez
01 Apr 2011 View Comments

Some of the UK's leading ISPs are discussing proposals to create an independent internet watchdog to blacklist web sites that infringe on copyright holders, according to The Telegraph.

A central list of web sites suggested by copyright holders would be blocked from internet access by providers.

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This news comes as BT and TalkTalk are fighting a legal battle in the High Court over the Digital Economy Act, which they argue is not enforceable under EU law.

The current legislation places responsibility with ISPs to monitor the networks and take action against users infringing copyright.

The new proposal has been compared to the non profit organisation Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which collects and investigates reports of child abuse material online.

The IWF collates a blacklist of web addresses that ISPs then prevent consumers from accessing.

A new version of the IWF for copyright protection would mean ISPs no longer having responsibility for monitoring the network.

The specifics of funding and structure are yet to be agreed.

Some major tech players have, however, written a letter to communications minister Ed Vaizey criticising the comparison between such a body and the IWF:

"We were concerned that some of the discussion at the roundtable suggested that the IWF scheme could be used as a template for a scheme to block access to sites facilitating downloading of unlicensed content," said the letter, which was signed by the Internet Service Providers Association, Google, TalkTalk and Yahoo, and seen by The Telegraph.

"It is obvious to us that the type of material in the two cases - child sexual abuse images in one and unlicensed content in the other - is of a wholly different nature and consequently warrants a wholly different approach," it added.

"Whilst there might be some learning to be gleaned from the technical approach and process steps used by the IWF, the analogy is very limited."

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