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Google will fight anti-piracy laws, says Eric Schmidt

Compares website blocking to China's repressive regime

By CBR Staff Writer

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has spoken against government’s plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites, such as Pirate Bay, saying that such a move could set a "disastrous precedent" for freedom of speech.

Speaking to journalists after his keynote speech at Google’s Big Tent conference in London, Schmidt said that Google would fight government attempts to block filesharing sites, the Guardian reported.

He said, "If there is a law that requires DNSs [which allows users to connect to websites] 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."

"If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it," added Schmidt.

Schmidt described the measures against such websites as similar to China’s clampdown on the Internet.

"I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems," he said.

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"So, ‘let’s whack off the DNS’. Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say ‘I don’t like free speech so I’ll whack off all those DNSs’ – that country would be China.

"It doesn’t seem right. I would be very, very careful about that stuff. If [the UK government] do it the wrong way it could have disastrous precedent setting in other areas."

Restricting access to illicit filesahring sites is part of government’s strategy to fight online piracy through measures included in the Digital Economy Act.

Last week, US senators re-introduced a bill that aims to give more power to authorities to clamp down on websites selling pirated movies, television shows, music and other fake products.

In November, a similar bill, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, was approved by the Senate, but it could not make it the Senate floor.

The new version of the bill has been renamed the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or Protect IP Act.

Last month, the New Zealand government outlawed unauthorised Internet file-sharing with a new legislation that allows penalties and blocking Internet access for repeat offenders.

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