Hey People – Leave our Internet alone!!

political promisesAh, politicians… the people we love to hate. Why is it politicians always seem to be so devious and untrustworthy? Maybe because they are often following some sort of personal agenda? Perhaps because many decisions they make appear to be illogical or biased in the eyes of us mere mortals? Don’t know about other countries but here in Australia voting for one or another of the two major political parties is somewhat akin to asking people to choose between ingesting either arsenic or strychnine… same result!

One of the most irritating aspects of government is its persistent interference in our everyday lives and the decisions we are supposed to be making of our own accord. When is government going to wake up to the fact that it cannot legislate against stupidity? The well known George Orwell novel “1984” (penned in 1948) theorizes on future governments’ totalitarian ideology, often referred to as the “Big Brother Syndrome”… a work which is proving to be more prophetic with each passing year.

I reject censorship in all its forms, especially when said censorship is foisted upon us per medium of governmental controls. This amounts to appointed members of some busybody government panel inflicting their own standards and opinions en masse, dictating what is acceptable and what is not. Take television censorship for example – every TV includes an On and Off switch, does it not? If a particular program includes material which is offensive to certain sensitive souls they can merely change channels, can they not?

CCI logoNow it appears that the CCI (Center for Copyright Information), a conglomeration of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) working in conjunction with 5 major US internet service providers, is also intent on exerting its influence through to the internet. I’ve been reading about the ‘3 strike’ anti-piracy system proposed in the UK in mid 2012, and more recently the “6 strike” system just put into effect in the US. These reports fill me with dismay and horror, as the realization hits home that governments and powerful organizations are inexorably, inch by inch, step by step, exerting control over the internet and its content… and ultimately us, it’s users.

Regardless of one’s stance – whether one believes in the concept of censorship or not, or is pro or con incidental piracy – the fact remains that the conditions associated with these policies fly in the face of every conventional precept concerning justice and fair play. Why is it that in every other instance of alleged wrong-doing the accepted and civilized edict is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ yet, it seems, whenever intellectual property/copyright material is involved, the onus of proof is reversed? Is it maybe because those who are initiating these insidious policies cannot, in most cases, definitively substantiate that an infringement has taken place… let alone incontestably identify the alleged infringer? It seems to me that this system is largely predicated on information which, in any other circumstance, would be considered circumstantial at best… there are so many gray areas. I haven’t even touched on the obvious privacy issues these systems raise, such as accessing personal ISP data based on a ‘claim’.

On a more positive note, a number of notable law experts are seriously questioning the US system’s validity… the following quote is attributed to Derek Bambauer, tech law professor at the University of Arizona:

Making a fair use of a copyrighted work is not infringement. Thus, even if I download an entire copy, if it’s fair use, I am not an infringer – and yet, the private law of six strikes treats me as one.

indexSome might say that the 6 strike system constitutes a mere slap on the wrist and should not be taken too seriously, and that’s fair comment. However, I say: this may be just the first toe in the door, that initial inch.

To further emphasize the point; the UK first tabled its 3 strike proposal in 2012. Then, earlier this year, the European Parliament tabled a further proposal which includes a ban on “all forms of pornography in the media”. Now, the term ‘media’ may be open to interpretation but the common definition is “a means of mass communication”… so, is it safe to assume that, in this day and age, the Internet would be included?

This is what European MP Christian Engström had to say about this latest proposal:

This is quite clearly yet another attempt to get the internet service providers to start policing what citizens do on the internet, not by legislation, but by ”self-regulation”. This is something we have seen before in a number of different proposals, and which is one of the big threats against information freedom in our society.

I could not agree more.

The internet has grown and flourished to the stage where it is not only big business but an extremely potent medium. Governments and powerful organizations recognize this and are intent on exerting their own influence and control… in my humble opinion, to the likely detriment of millions of users such as you and I. I see the internet as the ultimate platform where freedom of speech, information and choice must surely prevail. We do not not need nor want governments and media organizations dictating terms and manipulating what is supposed to be an open facility to further their own ends. Hey people – leave our internet alone!!

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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