In a bid to combat piracy and ensure the safety of the online audience, the European Union has decided to ban the use of pirate sites and apps.
These include torrent sites and mobile apps which distribute content for free, and which are widely used by pirates and those who would illegally download content.
The decision was announced by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Thursday, with all member states expected to follow suit.
However, some of the countries that have banned pirated content in the past are now considering whether to do so again.
As of November 1, the US, the UK, Canada and France have all made it mandatory to block pirate sites from using the internet.
However this has yet to apply to all of the 28 member states.
Pirate sites have been used for some time as a way of generating revenue, according to Vestager.
While the European Commission’s new rules aim to stop this, many people still believe the sites are safe.
In fact, some pirate sites, including the Pirate Bay, continue to operate as normal, according the BBC.
This may be due to the fact that the European governments and copyright owners do not want to block access to pirate sites or to punish users who use them.
However the Pirate Party MEP in the European Parliament, Geert Wilders, has warned that it is a mistake to ban them.
“If we don’t ban them, we will see more sites using pirate sites,” he told the BBC’s World Service.
“The whole point of the Pirate Parties is to fight for free and open markets.
If we just take away the ability to download, that’s the end of it.”
According to the European Digital Rights and Privacy Commission, more than 50,000 pirate sites are available on the internet, with millions more downloaded illegally.
However Wilders argues that if the European countries are serious about protecting online rights, they should also consider a similar move against the use by non-profit organizations and charities.
“We have to be very clear that it’s not just the non-profits and non-state actors, that pirate sites should be banned.
It’s the whole industry.
And it’s the same with charities and non commercial organizations,” he said.
The Pirate Party’s Wilders has previously called for the EU to ban pirate sites as a form of anti-piracy measures.
“What we should be doing is banning the piracy.
I mean, we should stop the sale of these sites, the distribution of them and the downloading.
We should be putting a lot of pressure on those who sell them,” he explained.
However many of the pirate sites continue to be used for illegal purposes, according Vestager, citing the fact there are more than 1,200 non-governmental organisations operating in the EU.
The MEP noted that the EU has an obligation to protect its citizens and is not the only member state to do this.
“In fact, in many countries we have already adopted anti-pirate laws,” she said.
“And in many of these countries, it’s actually more important to fight against piracy than to ban it.
And the EU should be the one who is the biggest anti-copyright organisation in the world.”