January 30, 2006

Slippery, Meet Slope: EU Wants Google to Agree to Content Regulation

It didn’t take long, did it?

Thanks to their agreement to cooperate with the government of China in search-content censorship, exactly what credible defense does BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame member Google have against this idea?

Google challenges EU plan to regulate the internet
By Andrew Murray-Watson (Filed: 29/01/2006)

Google, the giant internet search company, is to lead industry opposition to new proposals from the European Commission to regulate online content.

Google was criticised for bowing to pressure from Beijing.

The company, which last week said it would self-censor its Chinese search engine to appease the country’s government, objects to the commission’s proposals to extend regulations in the Television Without Frontiers directive (TWFD) to cover video content shown on the internet.

James Purnell, the minister for creative industries, has backed Google’s stance.

He said: “There is no benefit to the consumer that justifies this move. This increased scope could mean significant regulation of the internet and stifle the growth of new media services. That would raise prices for consumers and deprive them of potential new services.”

Existing national laws that regulate TV broadcasting – for example, the British ban on tobacco advertising and child porn – were sufficient, he added.

If the proposals became part of European law, Purnell said, “in 10 years our successors will bemoan the handicaps we gave to European industry and the restraints we put on free speech”.

“For example, the proposals suggest that member states should ensure that media service providers. . . do not offer material which contains incitement to hatred on grounds of, for example, disability or age. I’m the last person to say that issues like this are not important and of course we have been discussing race and religious hatred in our own Parliament only recently.

“But what that debate showed was that these are wide-ranging issues on which there are different, strongly and legitimately held opinions and where intervention must have the strongest justification. Some member states – and I don’t just mean the UK – will have serious difficulties with such an approach on grounds of freedom of speech.”

Other opponents to the new proposals include James Murdoch, the chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting.

The plan to extend the scope of the TWFD is set to go before the European Parliament later this year. The new proposals, if implemented, will govern material shown on the internet which originates in EU member states. The internet industry fears that some content providers will move outside the trading bloc rather than submit to regulation.

Thanks to Google and other Wall of Shame members, China, the EU, and other governments may be able to accomplish through high-tech companies without conscience what the UN and EU utterly failed to do in Tunisia last November.

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1 Comment

  1. Str8 Up Hypocrisy

    Tom reads the article, strokes his chin, scratches his head, throws up his arms, and rightfully sighs on this one:

    Trackback by EU Rota — January 31, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

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