Europe ponders browser blocks on pirates

While U.S. officials have been seizing domain names to battle online piracy, other countries have come up with other ideas, such as blocking sites through a website’s domain name system, a notion that has gained some impetus with hints in Europe  that “malware filtering in web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome would do the dirty work,” the tech news blog Torrent Freak reports. It says that British and Danish officials, pondering the browser-blocking approach, have found it, too, has considerable obstacles, including who would have the authority to blacklist what sites.

But this method would have its advantages, too, over the U.S. approach in seizing domain names and taking extensive legal actions against sites such as Napster, BitTorrent and LimeWire, all of which were accused of copyright infringement.

Problems with the American way, especially in dealing with off-shore players include, as TorrentFreak has pointed out in numerous postings: U.S. legal actions can be time consuming and controversial; violators skip to new domains when U.S. authorities seize one; and foreign authorities may not see some operators as pirates under their laws. But John Morton, the head of ICE, one of the U.S. agencies involved in the domain seizures, recently has reaffirmed the American commitment to this approach, testifying recently that it will continue — perhaps for years. He also defended the legality of the approach, seeking to answer critics’ howling about the constitutionality of seizures without due process and hearings.