Friday, 27 May 2011

Google's Schmidt Blasts PROTECT IP as Censorship

At last, a statement from Google's Eric Schmidt that we can all endorse! Notorious king-of-creepy and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt launched a characteristically blunt attack on an unusual quarter, firmly rejecting the US PROTECT IP Bill as a disaster for free speech.

As it stands, PROTECT IP will enforce widely encompassing legislation to force search engines, internet providers, credit card companies and ad networks to block access to 'rogue sites' - anything the content industry and/or the US government deems undesirable, which would include practically all torrent sites (Pirate Bay et al.), WikiLeaks, or sites publishing WikiLeaks documents.

Schmidt calls it a "disastrous precedent" for freedom of speech.

"If there is a law that requires DNS's to do X and it's passed by both houses of congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it," Schmidt stated, "If it's a request the answer is we wouldn't do it, if it's a discussion we wouldn't do it."

"I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems," he continued. 
Simply being able to wipe sites out of the Domain Name System (DNS) may seem like an appealing solution, but it sets a very bad precedent for any other country resisting free speech to block absolutely any site from the DNS - and Schmidt specifically sited China.

The MPAA's Michael O'Leary, speaking for the content industry which has lobbied hard for this law, hit back; "Google seems to think it's above America's laws."

The RIAA joined the attack on Schmidt; "As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity. In substance and spirit, this contradicts the recent testimony of Google's General Counsel that the company takes copyright theft seriously and was willing to step up to the plate in a cooperative and serious way."

Notice that Schmidt didn't say Google would disregard the law - he said they would fight it. 
A Google spokesperson later stated; "Of course we abide by the law in every country we do business. We respect what the PROTECT IP Act is trying to accomplish and we're working closely with Congress to make sure the bill targets sites dedicated to piracy while protecting free expression and legitimate sites."