Opposition towards Australia’s Internet censorship plans is growing. Google has said they are opposed to the ramping up of censorship.
Australia’s plan to increase Internet censorship is already widely opposed, but that opposition is getting a very powerful ally: Google. Australia already censors the Internet. That has been happening since 2015 when Australia ignored their own citizens and moved ahead with Internet censorship to please major foreign corporate interests.
The flawed idea is that if websites accused of copyright infringement are blocked, then people will magically flock back to the record stores and movie theatres and spend tonnes of money on creative works. Of course, as censorship critics correctly predicted, that never happened. In a subsequent survey, piracy rates rose and spending decreased as a result of Internet censorship.
As a result, the censorship experiment proved to be a complete and total failure. Logically, you’d think that the correct course of action would be to simply say, “we tried” and dismantle the censorship laws and infrastructure. Of course, major foreign corporations tend to see things differently. In response to the failure, they pushed the government to implement even more censorship. After all, it makes sense to repeat the same steps and expect a different outcome, right?
So, again, listening to foreign corporate interests and ignoring civil society and their own citizens, Australia began moving ahead with an increase in Internet censorship earlier this month. The increase in censorship boils down to adjusting the language of the laws. Under the new proposed laws, rather than a website whose “primary purpose” is infringement would be subject to the censors, now, a website would simply have to be a “primary effect” of infringement.
The change is sparking widespread outrage because any website that allows users to post content, or even comments, could be subject to being blacklisted from Australia for being a perpetrator of piracy. This is the interpretation of many legal experts who are familiar with Australian law.
Now, Google is speaking out against the censorship plan. From ZDNet:
“Google is concerned the Bill is being rushed forward despite no substantive evidence that the current legislation is deficient,” the search engine said in its submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications consultation on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018.
“Google’s view is that there is presently no reasonable policy basis for these amendments,” it said.
“Google is not aware of any instances where the Federal Court has refused to make site-blocking orders because of the current formulation of the law. Google is not aware of any evidence that follow-on orders are slow or expensive to obtain.”
Corporate copyright holders responded, suggesting that the primary purpose of Google’s business model is to infringe on copyright. They went even further and likened copyright infringement to theft of a physical good on top of it all.
Of course, it has been well established that major corporate copyright holders have a long history of being an opponent to innovation and the Internet for well over decades now, so such a reaction really isn’t that big of a surprise. They’ve opposed innovations like cell phones, the iPod and other MP3 players, DVD Jukeboxes, the CD, cassette tapes, FM radio, and even the gramophone at one point. The Internet really is just an extension of that list.
Whether or not Google is powerful enough to sway the Australian government away from going further into the technological abyss remains to be see. Obviously, the hope for innovators is that this push against an anti-technology Australia will be successful this time around. Otherwise, the risk is that the country will be shut out of the future completely for a very long time.