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Canadian tel co proposes web-block agency

By | Published on Tuesday 26 September 2017

Bell Canada

A Canadian internet service provider has proposed that the country’s government set up an independent authority that has the power to order copyright infringing websites be blocked.

Web-blocking, of course, has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the entertainment industry in countries where it is an option. Usually web-blocks require an injunction from a court of law, though under a proposal put forward by Bell Canada an independent government agency would have the power to instruct ISPs to block piracy sites.

In most countries, net firms are initially resistant to web-blocking when it is first proposed, though once it’s underway they generally accept the practice and adhere to any web-block injunctions that come their way. But it’s interesting this proposal, which would make web-blocking even easier, is coming from a telecommunications company.

Though Bell Canada also has a TV business, and generally ISPs that are also in the content game themselves have been more friendly to the music and movie industries in their various attempts to combat online piracy.

According to Torrentfreak, Rob Malcolmson, Bell’s SVP Regulatory Affairs, proposed the web-block agency during a committee hearing on the previously reported review of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

He said: “We recommend that the government commits to stronger intellectual property enforcement by having an administrative agency dedicated to such enforcement and by prioritising enforcement against digital pirates … We would like to see measures put in place whereby all internet service providers are required to block consumer access to pirated websites”.

He went on: “In our view, it would be an independent agency that would be charged with that task. You certainly would not want the ISPs acting as censors as to what content is pirate content. But, surely, an independent third party agency could be formed, could create a blacklist of pirate sites, and then the ISPs would be required to block [them]”.

Malcolmson added that such an agency would go some way to placating American copyright owners who have in the past criticised Canadian law for not doing enough to crack down on online piracy.

Though, of course, web-blocking doesn’t currently exist in the US, and proposals to introduce it all the way back in 2011/2 proved very controversial. That said, in more recent years the American movie industry in particular has been trying to get web-blocking back on the agenda there too.



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