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Content Matters

In 2022, the open and neutral Internet is under threat more than ever as policy-makers seek to rein in the bit tech global platforms, some of which did not exist when I set up this website in 2007.

We have seen several different groups of stakeholders lobbying for blocks to be placed on websites, user access to be suspended or content filtering. It all started with copyright, but now many other lobbying interests are leading the charge. Many are non-governmental organisations representing vulnerable people or children, others are big industrial corporations whose motives are less likely to represent a public interest. A worrying development is how law enforcement have themselves become a stakeholder in this debate, seeking to get the private corporations to carry out enforcement on their behalf.

The issues also have moved on. Over the time that I've been writing on this field, we've seen calls for Internet blocking arising in respect to libel and defamation, and now there is very long list. One of the more worrying developments, especially in the UK since Brexit, is the matter of abuse of individuals. Those who oppose government policy tend to experience high volumes of very unpleasant abuse, and in some cases violent threats. This is not acceptable. It does raise a very difficult question, from a policy and human rights perspective. How to balance the need to protect free speech against malicious or arbitrary restrictions against the need to tackle the those who engage in this unpleasant and anti-social activity.

This section address a range of threats to the Internet from 2008 to the present day.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in Internet policy-making in the EU, especially with regard to copyright policy, you may like my books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'

If you are following discussions around telecoms and technology policy and content blocking , you may like my book The Closing of the Net which covers the British copyright blocking orders, as well as the Megaupload case.

As Victoria A. Espinel, the White House co-ordinator on copyright enforcement prepares to speak in the European Parliament next week, we learn of new powers being sought by the US government to impose IPR rules on other countries, including the EU. The Stop Online Piracy Act (also sometimes referred to as E-parasite) in the US congress seeks to impose the most draconian measures against Internet users and websites. But from an EU perspective, it contains a poison pill. American academics and NGOs who have studied are warning that it contains dangerous provisions which would empower US Embassies to force other countries to adopt the same anti-Internet measures.

Read more: How America could impose Internet censorship on the EU

Is it the role of the telecoms regulator to assist with extra-judicial punishments on behalf of private companies?

The decision of the UK government's premium rate services referee to assist in the blocking of payment services on behalf of the IFPI raises serious questions as to the role of the telecommunications regulators in copyright enforcement. It also exposes actions by the British music industry to use payment services as a new - and possibly illegal - way to enforce copyright on the Internet.

Read more: The UK regulator, the police and the IFPI - is it out of line?

The G8 Deauville Declaration is positioned as ' A new step for liberty and democracy'. But whose liberty?

Last week's inter-governmental summit of the heads of the so-called G8 group of nations took place in the fresh air of the French seaside resort of Deauville. But the sea air does not appear to have had a beneficial effect on final communiqu, which incorporates a call for stronger enforcement of intellectual property online.

The call is positioned as an economic priority for governments worldwide, and it is a coded demand for 3-strikes and website blocking.

The so-called Deauville Declaration, in the context of 'a new step for liberty and democracy' wants to see national frameworks to improve 'respect' for

Read more: G8 Deauville Declaration - Sarkozy's web of threats

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.