A proposed amendment to the current Taiwanese law governing copyright could lead to Great Firewall-style internet blocking, according to free speech campaigners.
The amendment, put forward by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office, would allow IP and DNS blocking at the ISP level through a black list system. The system, designed to block websites which share media protected by copyright law, will also target peer-to-peer tools such as BitTorrent.
Since the proposal was announced, there has been considerable push back from bloggers and tech industry players in Taiwan.
The proposal would introduce a blacklist similar to that overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (AMCA). Campaigners have demonstrated on numerous occasions that the Australian blacklist is poorly administered and susceptible to abuse. In April it was revealed that 1,200 websites were inadvertently blocked in attempt to censor one site alleged to be fraudulent by the government. A version of the AMCA blacklist published in Wikileaks in 2009 included the websites of a “Queensland dentist, a tuckshop convener and a kennel operator”.
As Taiwanese commentator CK Hung points out, it is the secret nature of the blacklist which makes it dangerous for free speech, regardless of the high-minded copyright protection ideals behind the proposal (translation by Global Voices):
The blacklist for blocking websites at the IP and DNS level cannot be disclosed or else the list would make them more popular. The list will keep updating as the blocked sites will keep changing their DNS. Authoritarian states love these kinds of blacklists which operate in a black box to help them censor the Internet.