A group of UK copyright lobbyists held confidential, closed-door meetings with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries to discuss a plan to allow industry groups to censor the Internet in the UK. The proposal has leaked, and it reveals a plan to establish "expert bodies" that would decide which websites British people were allowed to see, to be approved by a judge using a "streamlined" procedure. The procedure will allow for "swift" blocking in order to shut down streaming of live events.
Public interest groups like the Open Rights Group asked to attend the meeting, but were shut out, presaging a regulatory process that's likely to be a lopsided, industry-centric affair that doesn't consider the public. The process is characterised as "voluntary," but the proposal makes reference to the Digital Economy Act, which allows for mandatory web-blocking (thanks to the action of LibDem Lords who submitted a proposal written by a record industry lobbyist as an amendment to the DEA).
The Open Rights Group has a campaign to repeal the DEA that you can sign onto.
We would like confirmation from the government that these are genuine proposals which they are actively considering. We would also like to know what steps they will be taking to consider the views of organisations such as Open Rights Group, and those others who recently wrote to rights holders expressing their concern and requesting such proposals are made public.
So far these discussions have involved only rightsholders and Internet companies, with only in the most recent meeting involving Consumer Focus. (As Jim blogged yesterday, Consumer Focus' response to the proposals they discussed is here). This is a welcome concession. But it is a concession. Open policy making that takes on board the broadest range of views is not something within the gift of politicians but a responsibility they bear.