Harry Metcalfe

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Don’t let the Government zap your internet connection

Aug 25th 2009
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Politics

The government have just announced that they do intend to introduce technical measures to reduce illicit file-sharing after all, and have tacked some extra questions onto an existing consultation file-sharing consultation. You need to write to your MP. Yes! You!

Among the points you could make:

This regulation is unnecessary

File-sharing is on the wane. Legal services like Spotify and last.fm are extremely popular, and heavily used. Spotify have been gaining 40,000 new users per day. The market is solving this problem. Heavy-handed regulation is not necessary.

These measures are disproportionate

The Government intends to introduce measures that would allow Ofcom to strip people of their internet connection. This is an extremely severe measure. The Internet is not a luxury that can reasonably withdrawn on a whim. It is a crucial part of modern life. Increasingly it is the medium by which we interact with the state, with each other, and with the banks, energy companies and merchants that are intricately woven into our lives.

To suggest that the Internet is something that can be withdrawn from a person on the say-so of rightsholders is as if we gave private companies the power to crush our cars for speeding in their car parks. It’s grotesquely disproportionate.

These measures will cause collateral damage

There is little or no way to gather evidence that ties illicit filesharing to a person. It can often be tied to an ISP account, and sometimes to a computer, but that’s about it. These measures would affect all users of an internet connection alike. What happens to people in houses of multiple occupation? Home businesses? Public wifi hotspots?

Is it right for all the users of an internet connection to be punished because of the actions of one person?

Unaccountable and Illiberal

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these measures are almost completely unaccountable. The Secretary of State is empowered to decide when technical measures are necessary. A private body collects evidence and supplies it to another private body, which supplies that evidence to a Quango who are empowered to remove people from the internet. Where are the courts? Who evaluates the evidence? Where is my right to confront my accusers? Where is the due process?

Why do we keep letting the executive pass laws which bypass the courts and place judicial powers in the hands of ministers? It makes me so angry I could spit.

What you should do

  • Write to your MP. Now. Go! Draw this consultation to their attention. Ask them to do all they can to oppose these measures.
  • Respond to the consultation
  • Join the Open Rights Group, who fight against this stuff every day.
  • Spread the word: blog this, tweet about it, post stuff on facebook. Tell your friends. Put it in your email signature. Make sure people notice.

Photo by DeaPeaJay


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