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Cecilia Malmström, the IFPI, and Child Pornography
By hook or by crook.
The following is an article published 27 April by PP EU minister Christian Engström. The IFPI are the IP lobby running the EU much as the MAFIAA run the US and North America. IFPI chairman John Kennedy was of course the clown who came to the trial of The Pirate Bay to testify on how much The Pirate Bay had cost him but without being able to give actual statistics and after admitting under oath that he understood bit torrent 'only vaguely'.
Christian's article shows in black on white how far the IFPI and the MAFIAA will go to get what they want. And ethics be damned.
'Child pornography is great', the speaker at the podium declared enthusiastically. 'It's great because politicians understand child pornography. By playing that card, we can get them to act and start blocking sites. And once they have done that, we can get them to start blocking file sharing sites.'
The venue was a seminar organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm on 27 May 2007 under the title 'Sweden - A Safe Haven for Pirates?' The speaker was Johan Schlüter from the Danish Anti-Piracy Group, a lobby organisation for the music and film industry associations, like IFPI and others.
I was there together with two other pirates, Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge and veteran Internet activist Oscar Swartz. Oscar wrote a column about the seminar in Computer Sweden just after it had happened. Rick blogged about it later, and so did I.
'One day we will have a giant filter that we develop in close cooperation with the IFPI and the MPA. We continuously monitor the child porn on the net to show the politicians that filtering works. Child porn is an issue they understand', Johan Schlüter said with a grin, his whole being radiating pride and enthusiasm from the podium.
And seen from the perspective of the IFPI and the rest of the copyright lobby, he of course had every reason to feel both proud and enthusiastic, after the success he'd had with this strategy in Denmark.
Today the file sharing site The Pirate Bay is blocked by all major Internet service providers in Denmark. The strategy explained by Mr Schlüter worked like clockwork.
Start with child porn (which everybody agrees is revolting) and find some politicians who want to appear like they're doing something. Never mind that the blocking as such is ridiculously easy to circumvent in less than 10 seconds. The purpose at this stage is only to get the politicians and the general public to accept the principle that censorship in the form of 'filters' is OK.
Once that principle has been established, it is easy to extend it to other areas such as illegal file sharing. And once censorship of the Internet has been accepted in principle, they can start looking at ways to make it more technically difficult to circumvent.
In Sweden, the copyright lobby tried exactly the same tactic a couple of months after the seminar where Johan Schlüter had been speaking. In July 2007 the Swedish police were planning to add The Pirate Bay to the Swedish list of alleged child pornography sites that are blocked by most major Swedish ISPs.
The police made no attempt whatsoever at contacting anybody from The Pirate Bay, which they of course should have done if they'd actually found any links to illegal pictures of sexual child abuse. The plan was to just censor the site and at the same time create a 'guilt by association' link between file sharing and child porn.
In the Swedish case the plan backfired when the updated censorship list leaked before it was put into effect. After an uproar in the blogosphere, the Swedish police were eventually forced to back down from the claim that they had found illegal child abuse pictures or had any other legal basis for censoring the file sharing site. Unlike in Denmark, The Pirate Bay site is not censored in Sweden today.
But the copyright lobby never give up. If they are unable to get what they want on the national level, they'll try through the EU. And vice versa.
The big film and record companies want censorship of the net and they are perfectly willing to cynically use child porn as an excuse to get it. All they needed was a politician who was prepared to do their bidding without spending too much effort on checking facts or reflecting on the wisdom of introducing censorship on the net.
Unfortunately they found one in the newly appointed Swedish EU commissioner Cecilia Malmström. In March 2010 she presented an EU directive to introduce filtering of the net, exactly along the lines Johan Schlüter advocated in his speech at the seminar in 2007.
I assume commissioner Malmström's motives are honourable and that she genuinely believes she's doing something good that will prevent sexual child abuse. But sweeping a problem under the carpet or hiding it behind filters can never be the proper solution. If there actually are sites distributing pictures of sexual child abuse openly on the net, the sites should be shut down and the people behind them should be put in prison (after a proper trial).
But Cecilia Malmström's Internet censorship directive will have no effect at all on sexual child abuse in the world. All she will have achieved if she is successful with this directive will be to legitimise the principle of Internet censorship in Europe, just like the copyright lobby wanted her to.
It would be very sad if she succeeds.
Postscript: Brokep on Swedish Police
The following was Peter 'Brokep' Sunde's response to the news the Swedish police were trying to do the bidding of the IFPI and MAFIAA and associate The Pirate Bay with child pornography. The listing leaked onto the Internet and the bad guys were forced to back down. That time. Now they have Cecilia Malmström to help.
To make things perfectly clear: we don't host any content. And I've never seen child porn on the Bay. Our moderators work on all the reports we receive from the public and they contact ECPAT or other organisations if they find suspicious stuff. The police have never contacted us in any respect regarding child porn! And who would put it up there?
TPB is the most visible place there is. People that distribute stuff like this put it on darknets and I would think they know that the risk of getting caught putting stuff on a public system like The Pirate Bay is really huge. It's sexual suicide!
If the police would find anything wrong - shouldn't they first contact us, then bring us in for questioning regarding the content, ask for our help, or bring us to court for our wrongdoings?
By not acting this way it's very clear what this is all about. It's all about quieting a voice that is really uncomfortable for them since they don't have any legal standpoint in doing it. It's sabotage, it's abuse of power given to them. It will forever make our site associated with something as disgusting as child porn. They are labelling us - without being tried for it in a legal system, remember - as having something to do with child porn!
So who's abusing children? It's the police, for using the same filtering system used to protect them, to gain from it themselves. For them it's good that children get abused, so they can shut down websites they don't like. Yes it sounds sick, but this is the way it has become.
I hope the Swedish ISPs will take action against this and stop using the childporn filter! And that's a bad thing because it could have some good effects, but they decided to go a bit too far with their filtering.
Anonymous: AnonWWW Proxy Server
Christian Engström: IFPI's child porn strategy
Brokep: Swedish Police will CENSOR The Pirate Bay
Rick Falkvinge: Kommentarer till propagandakriget
Computer Sweden/Oscar Swartz: Hets mot bredband
ZeroPaid: Swedish Police to Shut Down the Pirate Bay?
Cecilia Malmström: Ett slag för barnens rättigheter