So whats the big deal about the debill, and why are seemingly so many “techies” and “nerds” getting their knickers in a twist about it?
Consumers and companies (including Google, Facebook and ISPs – your broadband provider!) alike are up in arms about the Bill, which proposes that an Internet connection could be cut off if there is suspicion that it is being used for the downloading of copyrighted content.
This is very disturbing:
- Although proof is required before disconnection, the evidence does not have to relate to you: you can be punished for the actions of a friend or even a neighbour who has used your Internet connection.
- Rights holders could have the power to demand that sites they believe to contravene copyright law be blocked by ISPs. Right now, we don’t know what the govrnment will propose, as they have yet to draft their new proposal
- As it is not the perpetrator that is punished, as you might expect, but the owner of the connection, and others using it, cafés and bars may have to stop providing wifi, no more BTOpenZone, FON, etc!
Regardless of what you do or don’t do, you could be punished for the actions of others because of laws put in place by the Digital Economy Bill: if you have unsecured wifi in your home, you could be punished; if you use the Internet at your local coffee shop or library, you could lose access to that connection.
Justice would not be completely out of reach: you could appeal, but you would have to pay for the privilege, and you wouldn’t be eligible for any legal aid. Reasons for appeal are limited, and unlike in a trial, the onus would not be on rights holders to prove your guilt: you would be responsible for proving your innocence.
This is another example of badly thought-out government policy, pushed through by lobbyists, and constructed by people who just don’t know what they are doing, or what they are talking about.
There are better solutions to the internet download problem, including the record industry evolving its business models to keep up with changes in technology (think Apple iTunes). Funnily enough, the music industry is thriving with downloads, its the record labels that are suffering – aww the poor “big machine”, its in pain as power shifts to “the little people”.
Those of you that know me, know that I am very much not a tree hugging hippy that believes the government is out to get us; I believe in free markets, I believe in capitalism, and I believe in equality for all. It is possible for all of those to coexist, anyone that doesn’t think so, is, well, just wrong (and stupid).
If you want to know more about this stuff, I strongly recommend you watch the Panorama documentary recently released, titled “Are the net police coming for you“.