The London Grid for Learning (LGfL), which among other things supplies broadband connectivity to around 3,000 schools (c.1 million children) in the UK’s capital city, claims to have become the first educational technology company and ISP to work with City of London Police (CLP) in order to block known piracy websites.
Most schools already use strict internet content filters to prevent abuse of their network, as well as to help focus children on using the internet for educational purposes. However this appears to mark the first time that such an organisation has formally worked with the CLP to block all websites on the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit‘s (PIPCU) Infringing Website List (IWL).
At present most of the country’s major home broadband ISPs (BT, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, TalkTalk etc.) only block access to copyright infringing sites once in receipt of a court order to do so, but they’re public providers while the LGfL is a not-for-profit organisation with a specific focus on only providing connectivity and educational technology to schools in London.
Naturally schools, not unlike public WiFi hotspots and other such networks, have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of any future legal repercussions that may occur from allowing children to access or distribute content that breaks copyright.
Mark Bentley, LGfL’s DigiSafe Team, said (UKAuthority):
“LGfL DigiSafe is committed to partnering with relevant stakeholders in order to achieve our mission of saving schools money and keeping children safe.
By working with City of London police to block its List of Infringing Websites to our community of over 2 million students we not only prevent children accessing inappropriate material, but also provide reassurance to senior leaders that this illegal activity cannot be committed on the school site, meaning headteachers do not need to fear liability for copyright infringements.”
Apparently the operation began last month and a “regularly updated” blacklist of websites is now being provided to the LGfL, although they still need to develop an API in order to automate such updates.
Meanwhile the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) are already in the process of considering whether or not they can setup a new “administrative site blocking” process, which would replace the current system of court orders for major ISPs (here).