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Thursday, 6 April 2017

London Police Ink Shadowy Deal with Industry on Website Takedowns



We've previously highlighted how payment service providers like Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, and others go beyond the law to isolate and effectively censor websites that infringe their sometimes arbitrary standards. This has resulted in websites that provide information on sexualitypharmaceuticals, or whistleblowing, suddenly finding themselves cut off from their sources of funding, and left with no clear recourse.

How RogueBlock Works

One of the other reasons why websites can find themselves losing payment services is if they are accused of being associated with the sale of goods that infringe copyright, patents, or trademarks. One program used to accomplish this is a shadowy agreement between the payment processors and the private International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) called RogueBlock.

In what the IACC euphemistically describes as a "streamlined, simplified" process, it notifies the payment companies that a website allegedly offers goods that infringe a trademark, patent, or copyright, and encourages them to suspend their payment services to that website, usually without any court judgment verifying the allegation.1 The RogueBlock program is self-described as having been "highly encouraged and supported" by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Encouragement (and tacit pressure) from government is typical of these private enforcement arrangements, deals that EFF describes as Shadow Regulation.

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