Mon, Jun 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

IPO ban proposal restricts freedom of speech: group

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wikimedia Taiwan is urging people to protest against a government proposal that would require local Internet service providers to block overseas sites that infringe copyright.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Intellectual Property Office (IPO) last month announced that to protect the nation’s cultural and creative industry, it is planning to require local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ban certain Internet Protocol addresses or Domain Name Systems of overseas Web sites that provide content that seriously infringe upon copyrights.

Two days after the announcement, the IPO released another statement saying the ban would be aimed only at Web sites providing a large proportion of content with “clearly serious” infringement, and that it would take opinions from the public once it finishes drafting an amendment to the Copyright Act (著作權法).

However, Wikimedia Taiwan — an association affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation and dedicated to providing free content through Wiki sites in traditional Chinese characters — said in a statement last weekend the amendment challenges Internet freedom.

“Freedom of speech is being threatened,” the statement said. “If this quasi-Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] passes, the freedom, openness and sharing of features on Wikipedia would be damaged.”

Wikimedia Taiwan compared the proposal to the US’ SOPA bill, proposed in 2011 to expand the US law enforcement’s ability to deal with online copyright infringement content and counterfeit goods.

The IPO proposal is also aimed at foreign Web sites that infringe copyright content and uses the same method of asking ISPs to block certain Internet connections, the association said.

Unlike SOPA, the IPO proposal would be enforced through administrative orders, Wikimedia Taiwan said.

The association added that it is concerned that administrative agencies could arbitrarily decide which Web sites to block, and possible abuses may undermine freedom of speech on the Internet.

It also said network packets transmitted by Internet users may be intercepted if the ISP blocking method is applied, and would seriously invade privacy of correspondence, protected by the Constitution.

In addition, Plurk, a micro-blogging service similar to Twitter, posted a statement titled “Being choked at the neck is not called freedom — we don’t need a sanction bureau” on its blog on Friday, stressing that the public interest should not be impacted for the sake of a few stakeholders.

It said people should have the freedom to visit any Web site at their will, and that the IPO does not have the right to decide which Web sites should be banned.

Wikimedia Taiwan urged people to understand the IPO’s proposal, tell their friends about the implications, voice concern to legislators and get ready to protest together against the proposal.

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