France, Australia, Britain, Canada, Iran and China aren’t the only countries either deliberating on or actively using mandatory DNS blacklists. It seems that there is an all-out PR war in Germany over the governments plan to pass a law which mandates the use of web blacklists. That didn’t go over too well with German citizens as there is already over 100,000 signatures that has been added to a petition and protests that shows how citizens are not happy with such a plan.
Many countries including the United States have denounced the ideas of censorship in China. When countries like Iran and China use internet censorship, they often get heavily criticized for even thinking about doing that. Yet, how often do these criticisms come from the same countries regarding the censorship practises in Australia or, in this case, Germany? What makes Australia’s and Germany’s internet censorship tactics so much more acceptable since even the Chinese government has said that it’s blacklists are used to fight pornography online. Of course, many know that such blacklists have, more often then not, been used to block legal content – an issue that raises serious questions about free speech.
What’s also at stake is a very real threat the censorship tactics could be used to target file-sharers. Germany has become the first country to have to deal with the copyright industry trying to use the mandatory blacklists to block file-sharing websites. Whether or not there will be a third attempt to include file-sharing sites like Rapidshare into the blacklist is unclear at this point. However, a post on netzpolitik certainly highlights heavy resistance toward the legislation. As of this writing, a petition to stop the DNS blacklist has gotten more than 134,000 signatures. Coupled with the online petition, there have already been public demonstrations on this issue.
Two months ago, German book publishers wanted to use mandatory blacklists to block Rapidshare. Early last year, the German government had to tell rights holders that data retention is for fighting terrorism, not copyright infringement.
In spite of the history of the German filters and data retention, the German government still insists that the filters will be used merely to block child pornography. Even then, some people don’t buy this given that a simple use of a proxy can be used to bypass the filters in the first place. So the real question is, who is this really intended for and who is this really intended to serve?