Ed Vaizey, the UK's Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, has been taking part in closed meetings with copyright lobbyists, apparently working on a proposal that could amount to internet censorship.

Leaked online, the proposed "voluntary website blocking" scheme would "inhibit access to specific sites" based on the opinions of "expert bodies" and through shotgun court hearings.

Ed Vaizey has already admitted in parliament that he has held a number of roundtables with ISPs but public interest organisations like the Open Rights Group who asked to attend the meetings were denied access.

Industry bias

The document relates to copyright infringement, but has also been linked to online child safety and there are fears that it could become a one-stop-censorship-shop for anything this "expert body" deems inappropriate.

Other rights-holding organisations involved in the talks include the Football Association, the Publishers Associations, the Motion Picture Association and music industry execs.

While these organisations are keen to protect their own content and stamp out online piracy, rights infringement and plagiarism, the fact that only one group with the interests of the average consumer have been invited to participate in just one session poses a real concern.

Access to the open internet is gradually becoming a human rights issue, and taking on only the views of a biased few when discussing actively blocking websites could have longterm repercussions for Brits.

Human rights

The Digital Economy Act has already proposed blocking sites for copyright infringement, but it's an act that has been the subject of much debate and concern among web-users and some ISPs.

As the Open Rights Group says, "Open policy making that takes on board the broadest range of views is not something within the gift of politicians but a responsibility they bear."

"It is critical that policy making happens through a broad and open public debate, especially on matters that so tangibly affect rights such as access to information and freedom of expression.

"This is not simply about the rights of 'sites that facilitate infringement' or those running them. It is about the processes through which decisions are made about what you are allowed to see and do. Clumsy, quasi-judicial and unaccountable website blocking is dangerous for exactly that reason."

Via BoingBoing