EC's leak describes blocking as "challenging", "costly" and ineffective
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Deutsch: Durchgesickertes Kommissionspapier bezeichnet Netzsperren als "sc...
A leaked draft of the European Commission's (EC) Green Paper on gambling provides some valuable insights into the Commission's views on web blocking. Firstly, contrary to Commissioner Malmström's repeated promises to the contrary, the leak shows that the Commission has no objections in principle to blocking being used against content other than child abuse. The document states that blocking of unlicensed gambling websites "might be justified". The draft policy document goes on to describe what it sees as a key advantage of DNS blocking - that it can be used to hijack users' connections to direct them to approved sites.
Nonetheless, while in favour of blocking in principle, the document explicitly recognises that blocking is "technically challenging and costly" and that blocking will leave a "significant" residual level of illegal sites publicly available. In particular, and this is of importance for blocking in relation to child abuse material, the document says that regular updating of a blocking list will be "costly" - a point studiously avoided by the European Commission in the blocking debate so far.
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament is getting ready for its vote on blocking next week. 342 amendments have been tabled to the Child Exploitation Directive as a whole, with 45 addressing the issue of Internet blocking. While there is a large consensus that blocking should not be mandatory on Member States, there is a wide divergence of opinion on whether blocking should be promoted or not by the Directive and whether "non-legislative" measures should be encouraged as a means of achieving blocking.
Among MEPs that have been diligently working on the dossier in the 22 months since the original proposal was made, there is widespread agreement that neither blocking nor non-legislative measures should be promoted. However, numerous amendments have been tabled by MEPs that have never spoken in a single debate on the issue. When the vote happens, therefore, all will hang on the efforts by activists to contact MEPs and persuade them that blocking is dangerous and that extra-judicial actions by Internet access providers to restrict access to content would be wrong and contrary to the most basic principles of fundamental rights.
Draft European Commission Green Paper on online gambling in the Internal
EDRi's web blocking campaign page
(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)