Britain's Great Firewall, Block List Built In Secret?

Brick Wall by TheArtGuy

The government's plan for ISPs to voluntarily implement a national firewall for the UK are still very much on the agenda according to a open letter from Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries to the Open Rights Group (ORG).

An interesting move in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech, hyper-injunctions notwithstanding. Naturally enough, there are plenty of advocates making a well-argued case for why this won't work and campaigns to get MPs to stop website blocking.

The site filtering, which will be voluntarily administered by major ISPs is intended "to tackle online copyright infringement through site-blocking", but as Cory Doctorow writes on BoingBoing, access to content could be decided on the quiet,

"Big copyright companies would petition to have sites they don't like added to the secret national blacklist, and the ISPs would decide -- without transparency or judicial review -- whether to silently block Britons from seeing the censored sites"

As Blogger users in Turkey found out, copyright infringements can take out an entire web service for one infringement. Despite their best efforts most sites that handle any significant volume of user-generated content will be carrying some infringing material.

Does this mean we'll see the YouTube and Facebook disappearing from time-to-time as they get blocked? As for the feasibility of a technical solution, that's a whole other doubt we'll be hearing lots more about this.

Photo (cc) TheArtGuy.