Site blocking won't work

InternetNZ is surprised by today’s announcement of court action from Sky TV to a range of ISPs, asking them to block New Zealand Internet users from accessing certain websites. Sky’s assertion is that this move is designed to hamper piracy of online content.

“This is an extreme step in response to a problem of limited scale, and one that is unlikely to achieve the stated goal,” says InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter.

“InternetNZ cares about the rights of Kiwi Internet users. We are taking an interest here to make sure that the fundamental openness of the Internet in New Zealand is not hampered.

“Site blocking works against the very nature of the Internet. Site blocking is very easily evaded by people with the right skills or tools. Those who are deliberate pirates will be able to get around site blocking without difficulty.

“If blocking is ordered, it risks driving content piracy further underground, with the help of easily-deployed and common Internet tools. This could well end up making the issues that Sky are facing even harder to police in the future.

“The introduction of legal, easy to use streaming like Neon from Sky, or Lightbox, or Netflix and more, makes piracy less desirable over time. We encourage Sky and others to focus on getting their content online and easy to see and pay for, rather than going down avenues like site blocking.

“InternetNZ is taking legal advice on this matter, to understand better whether the Court has the ability to order such a block. Parliament has never signalled an intention to allow this when it has considered these matters, and if site blocking was to be introduced it should only happen after a broad public debate establishes it is unavoidable, and a parliamentary mandate is given.

“In the meantime, we would expect the ISPs named to decline to proceed with blocking the sites named by Sky. ISPs should never act on the simple request or demand of a content owner. Only proper due process should lead to any interference of this type,” Jordan Carter says.