Taiwanese Users Thwart Government Plans to Introduce Internet Blacklist Law

from EFF.org: Taiwan’s intellectual property office proposed a new Internet blacklist law
that would have targeted websites for their alleged use in copyright
infringement. The initiative would have forced Internet Service
Providers to block a list of domains or IP addresses connected to
websites and services found to enable “illegal” file sharing.
In the
face of massive online opposition and a planned Internet blackout, the IP office has now backed down and abandoned support for the law.

Taiwanese users were going to stage an Internet black out on Tuesday June 4th. Several websites, including Wikipedia Taiwan and Mozilla Taiwan pledged to go dark in order to raise awareness. At the time this was written, more than 45,000 people had shown their commitment to protest the bill.

The proposed amendment to Taiwanese copyright law eerily mirrored SOPA and PIPA
in its vague language. Any content sharing platform—including sites
like YouTube, Dropbox, or Reddit—could have been blocked entirely in
Taiwan if authorities found that they were used to share copyrighted
works illegally. This kind of overreaching enforcement could easily lead
to mass censorship of online content.

After several news outlets reported that the new initiative was akin to mainland China’s “Great Firewall,” the Taiwanese intellectual property office made an effort
to reject the comparison, claiming that they would only go after “very
obvious offenders” and not sites like Facebook, Google, or Yahoo. Yet
their definition of what sites they would have blacklisted remained too
vague to be reassuring for sites that lack the international clout of
those major services.

In the face of these criticisms and the planned blackout, the Taiwan
Intellectual Property Office abandoned this severe copyright law. In its
announcement, the office stated that this plan would be “adjusted.”
It’s clear that the government intends to introduce another copyright
enforcement initiative in the future. Still, it’s enormously encouraging
to see how users in Taiwan have organized to defend their rights and
successfully stopped this draconian blacklist law.

The unfortunate reality is that many government authorities around
the world still buy into the belief that the health of the Internet is
acceptable collateral damage in this manufactured war on copyright
infringement. Lawmakers need to understand that creativity and
innovation can only thrive when our platforms remain open, where users
are free to share and experiment with content. While it’s clear that the
Taiwan Intellectual Property Office did not learn from the mistakes of
SOPA and PIPA in the U.S., let’s hope others see the defeat of this
latest copyright blacklist law and recognize that users will not put up
with efforts to censor the Internet.

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