ISPs and search engines blocking accesss to content

  1. It’s a behaviour not peculiar to criminal law issues, but it is certainly troublesome when it comes to criminal law. Again, ISPs take action before any judgment has been passed, before any court involvement and the like. Such blocking of content by physically removing the materials does not comply with international standards of presumption of innocence; plus it means that the ISPs act as judges, especially if nobody challenges their decision, a route that could be explained for purely financial reasons.

Obviously, in addition there is the freedom of speech issue.

“Will YouTube Ban Videos Of Putting Your Head In The Sand Next?” (17 septembre 2008)

“Thousands Of Anti-Scientology Videos Taken Down From YouTube Via DMCA Takedowns” (8 september 2008)

“Google Taking Down Private Videos For Copyright Infringement?” (8 September 2008)

  1. The dangers underlined above appear in the following case. A grandfather posting on windows live the images of his family, with no possible access by outsiders, was ordered to withdraw some photographs within 48 hours or the site would be shut down. Having no clue of what the problem was, he went to see which pictures were so problematic and it was his grandson taking the bath with his dad, so obviously child naked with adult (male – because if female, I am pretty sure the host would not have raised an eyebrow). Had the case been refered to the court, the ISP/host would have lost: impossibility to prove the mens rea of putting child porn images (the family context with restricted access to family members whose identity can be easily verified); impossibility for the pictures to be found constituting child porn given that the adult was not engaging in any indecent act.
  2. and at the end, I think this is an infringement on privacy which is too great not to be noticed

About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
This entry was posted in censorship, Filtering, Providers as law enforcement agents. Bookmark the permalink.

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