There is a lot of talk of trying to legislate areas of the web. Here in the UK, BT will cut your broadband off if you are found to be frequenting and downloading content (music, films etc) from illegal file sharing sites. Many claim this just isn’t right, and that the UK government and BT are somehow trying to censor what we can or can’t do on the web. Over in the states, Google is thinking of divorcing itself from the Chamber of Commerce, because the Chamber supports legislation that forces internet companies to police websites that peddle pirated movies, music oh and fake Viagra (the latter being rather dangerous). So what’s your stance?
Protecting IP and consumers
The music industry really suffered first here, with copy write basically being flaunted all over the web, with millions of people globally simply downloading illegal copies of music. The same now happens with films and even drugs (though the latter is often fake versions of drugs such as Viagra).
Legislation that Google objects to is all about protecting that IP, essentially ensuring people get paid for their work and don’t have it stolen from them. Is there anything wrong with that? At the end of the day, if we all chose to illegally download music and films, would there be enough money in the industry to actually have an industry? Would we be left with “cr*p amateurs” uploading their stuff to You Tube? Yeap we would, and oh dear…It seems that individuals who have a problem with this type of legislation have a problem with it, because if effects their own habits (such as downloading free music /
films from illegal sites).
So why does Google as a web giant object to this legislation, and why could it see them pulling out of the Chamber of Commerce? Well, a source close to Google said the company is “frustrated” about paying dues to an organisation promoting legislation that would “impose new liabilities” on Google. So what does this actually mean…Well it means Google are frustrated that the Chamber supports legislation that would mean Google would have to make changes to its search algorithms, which will cost money!
Does protecting IP and consumers from fake drugs lead to a lack of innovation and censorship?
A cracking argument I read over and over again (when talking about legislation on cracking down on illegal websites etc) is that such legislation would threaten innovation and encourage censorship and infringe on freedom of speech on the Web…To this I have to say “what a load of shi*”.
Such legislation will mean Google has to monitor what it indexes and displays. That’s work for them. In addition it also means they can’t just take money from advertisers who peddle illegal content, again work for them. But, how does that stop innovation on the web? Would this legislation have stopped the rise of iTunes, a legal source of downloadable music? No, but it would have stopped Napster from sharing millions of music files and loosing an entire industry millions of pounds. Would legislation really lead to censorship of freedom of speech? Again No! Though some may argue WikiLeaks
would suffer…But again, is that a problem? Is stealing content and then publishing it really a good thing? Were any of those stories in the public’s interest, did WikiLeaks not break data protection laws and many others? But let’s back track, this legislation wouldn’t have stopped WikiLeaks, rather it is focusing on illegal file sharing and the selling of fake drugs etc…
Essentially Google and others don’t like this legislation because it means they have to do something, they have to invest in changes to their business to meet that legislation. Booo hooo. If anything, companies like Google should not have been indexing illegal sites from day one; there should not have been any need for legislation! After all, Google is effectively acting as a marketing tool for these illegal businesses. If I went to a local shopping centre and advertised where people can purchase stolen goods from, directing people to that “shop”, I am sure I would be spending sometime at her majesties discretion in jail! But, if I do it online and I am Google, that’s all ok…
The bottom line
For too long the web has been a place where people can get away with illegal activities because it’s all supposed to be “free”. Google is just as much a culprit as the illegal websites that it indexes. It’s about time Google did something about it, and I hope legislation is made stronger for companies that advertise / index / direct people to illegal websites. Stop whining Google, do your job properly and