Adrian Weckler: Why Internet Blocking Won’t Work
The European Commission has proposed a directive requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to ban access to websites displaying child pornography. Unfortunately, this is the wrong action to take.
It won’t prevent access to the websites in question, and it will start a legislative ball rolling where industry lobby groups will begin to agitate for bans on access to all manner of websites.
The commission’s rationale is that many illegal websites are hosted outside the European Union.
Therefore, it has no power to prosecute the website owners or shut the sites down. The next best move, it reckons, is to compel ISPs across the EU to block access to such sites.
For the person trying to access such a site, a message will be displayed informing them that the URL is blocked.
Some argue that the new rules should go further; that ISPs should be required to keep a record of computer addresses that attempt to access these illegal sites and report them to the police.
There are a great many problems with adopting this approach. Most importantly, it won’t work. Technology used to block access to websites is, generally, old.
It is also quite easy to bypass for anyone who wishes to spend a few minutes online investigating how to do so.