The Patent and Market Court in Sweden has just made a ruling that a Swedish internet provider (ISP) has to completely block two filesharing websites.
This may seem innocent enough, after all they are just trying to prevent the theft of intellectual property, right?
However a few things about this ruling are particularly strange, and essentially legalise censorship on a massive scale. Once a ruling like this has been made, the door has been opened, and future cases are likely to end in the same way.
The ISP and websites in questions are ‘Bredbandsbolaget’, ‘The Piratebay’ and ‘Swefilm’.
The logic behind the ruling is that the ISP must not be allowed to participate in the spreading of illegal material. However, they never were. They only provide internet access, they can’t possibly dictate what is available on the internet.
The reason why a lot of media outlets are reporting this as “legalising censorship” is that any individual or company could file a lawsuit, bogus or not, and have either competitors or facts they don’t agree with censored.
Are we going to see a multitude of website censored by this newly founded court in Sweden? Probably, hopefully, not. But even opening the door to censorship on a massive scale like this is very dangerous.
The worst case scenario would be entities such as political parties using censorship to win elections. Companies essentially deleting competitors from the internet. Scientific debates which may be unfavourable in some eyes, silenced.
That’s why ISPs and censorship should be left out of the antipiracy issue. If the government wants to stop piracy, the question must be asked. Why can’t the legal procedures already in place accomplish that?