Soo, this is interesting. The City of London police, a force which looks after a mere 1 mile patch in the centre of London, has now taken upon itself to run the Internet. According to this BBC report, the police force, which is best known for wearing quaint helmets and having a love of horses, has started inserting warning banners on websites it thinks are infringing copyright.
What makes this so strange, if not a little sinister, is the fact that the force is doing so without any court sanction or legal oversight, but simply relying on a 3rd party list which is provided by an anti-piracy group. What’s probably even more bizarre, is there doesn’t seem to be any geographic limitation on their actions, so even if the website is hosted in a country which allows for more lenient copyright laws, it could be attacked.
The big problem with this kind of ad hoc activity is it invariably leads to legitimate sites being targeted because they happen to slip under the radar and appear on badly managed lists. It’s made even worse when it’s being done by a section of the police that is typically tasked with managing crime in a single square mile of turf, and who probably won’t have the resources to devote expert attention to the task of policing something as vast as teh Internets.
As this Techdirt article says,
“A totally non-transparent, one-sided system by which these technologically clueless police designate a site to be a “pirate” site seems ripe for abuse and harming perfectly legitimate sites.”