As debates rage over proposed anti-piracy laws and internet censorship, Erik Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, came forward on Wednesday to recommend that governments not move forward with “simple solutions to complex problems” related to protecting IP.
The Guardian reported on Schmidt’s speech at Google’s Big Tent conference in London this week where the executive delivered some choice words about the looming specter of censorship across the web and how it could easily affect more countries.
“So, ‘let’s whack off the DNS,'” Schmidt ruminated. “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.”
Schmidt’s remarks may surprise some considering Google’s previous capitulations with DMCA complaints over links to infringing content, but as piracy news site TorrentFreak points out the search engine giant isn’t exactly Hollywood’s best friend either. Schmidt swore that Google would fight against attempts to shut down the cyberlockers which may house illicit material – even if that means standing up to the president of the United States.
“If there is a law that requires DNSs 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,” Schmidt said. “If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it.”
Weeding out the legal from the illegal has proven difficult in the past for governments.
Earlier this year, ICE defended several domain seizures despite criticism that some affected sites were indeed lawful. In February, the organization’s ongoing anti-child pornography campaign “Operation: Protect Our Children” similarly yielded mixed results: 84,000 sites were closed in February as a result of a far-reaching domain seizure, mistakenly affecting many innocent people.
The U.S. Congress is currently debating a method to guard IP rights. The proposed “Protect IP” act (.pdf) is one such “simple solution to a complex problem” that Schmidt is weary about. The Business Insider offered some support for Schmidt’s rationale: “Trying to recreate a world that has come and gone is not going to work. Technology is a genie that cannot be put back into a bottle.”