Google funded poll reveals U.S. public supports web blocking

By Lee Kaelin on November 18, 2011, 10:30 AM

Google has been vocal about their feelings surrounding the proposed new bill that could see ISP's blocking access to websites accused of copyright or trademark infringement. However, in a rather ironic turn of events, a Google funded survey by Columbia University has revealed that more than half of those taking part actually want websites guilty of serial copyright infringement blocked.

Of the 2,303 adults that took part in the survey, "no fewer than 58 percent support the idea of ISPs blocking the pirate sites, and 36 percent disagree with this. Of the respondents, 61 percent want sites like Facebook to take more action to screen for infringing material," according to the Register.

The Register also commented that the less than favorable response resulted in the University rephrasing the question. When asked if websites should be "censored", 46 percent said yes, and 49 percent said no. Fewer agreed if the question was posed in a way that implied legal content was being accidentally blocked. And asked if "the government" should "censor" websites, the number fell still further, with 36 percent in favor and 64 per cent disagreeing.

The research omits several crucial factors though. U.K. research found 51-percent of those asked the question, "should serial copyright leechers be punished more strongly," believed they should be. The Columbia research did not ask this question. The same U.K. survey found only 11-percent disagreed with the statement "it is important to protect the creative industries from piracy."

That's without the rather obvious issue that this research was paid for by the one company that leads the fight against the proposed new bill. Blocking piracy sites will hurt Google, in much the same way as removing other legal content will. It is in the interest of the search giant to ensure by whatever means are at their disposal that the internet remains as unregulated as possible.

U.S. people surveyed were asked "what is an appropriate penalty for downloading an unauthorized song or movie." Not surprisingly, most were against the penalities suggested.

Google, among other corporations, believe the two bills written in their current form would expose legitimate businesses and individuals to a broad and almost open ended risk of liability, likely resulting in more lawsuits. They also feel that, if passed and they become law, they could be perverted in the future and pose a real threat in censoring the internet.

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