So, this BBC headline Industry to stop ‘music cheats’ is a bit fucking disingenuous. What is should more properly read is “Industry to ‘cripple internet’, and ‘fuck with consumers’ at whim”.
In short: they’re asking for the right to pull the plug on the internet connection of anyone they suspect is pirating music. Not, you understand, the ability to prove that someone is engaged in illegal activity, and get a court order. Just y’know, the right to get in touch with your ISP and have your account yanked.
Noted copywonk Cory Doctrow explains it rather better than I might.
Yes, this all just a “maybe” in the future. A “might happen”. But still: the strength of the internet is that it’s a level playing field. That anyone with the right equipment can connect to it, from anywhere, and do as they please. It’s device and activity agnostic, and as Doctrow explains, that’s why it has become this fantastic medium. And I feel that any threat to that should be taken very seriously indeed.
Here’s a .pdf of a proposed amendment to American law the “Deleting Online Predators Act 2006”. The broad effect of this bill will be “to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms.”
Let’s be clear: “protect” in this instance means “remove access to”. Social networking sites are defined as “allows users to create web pages or profiles that provide information about themselves and are available to other users; and offers a mechanism for communication with other users, such as a forum, chat room, email, or instant messenger.” This definition encompasses Myspace, Livejournal, Flickr, Blogger, and loads of others.
The act, in fairness, says thing like “prohibits access by minors without parental authorization” rather than outright “ban”. However the act is aimed at schools and public libraries, and the only reliable and efficient means these institutions have to achieve that end is a to simply prevent access to these sites.
The problem with this legislation is that it will foster the already widening digital gulf between the rich and poor, and it’s the poorest families, for whom access is primarily through public terminals like schools and libraries, that benefit most from the increased opportunities available on the internet.
While I’m thinking of it: have I bored you all rigid on the subject of network neutrality, and why you should give a shit yet?
Swear to god, 2006 is starting to look like it’s going to be the year when the internet went away.