April 12, 2010
On April 8, the lords who pretend to represent the people in Britain (instead of large corporations and banks) passed the Digital Economy bill. The bill sets the stage for enforcing draconian measures for internet users. I summarize.
You will be restricted from accessing copyrighted material without paying for it, a no-brainer really since this was the presumed reason for the bill — or the excuse to get it passed. “The bill aims to make it more difficult to access copyrighted content, by blocking Web sites built around sharing such material. From the other side, the bill creates sanctions that can be applied to you, the user, should you be caught with your fingers in the copyright cookie jar,” writes CNet.
A fan of Download.com, the software site? Too bad. You might use software (peer-to-peer, bit torrent, etc.) available on the site to download copyrighted stuff. Say good bye to Download.com if you’re a Brit.
Google may fall under this provision as well. After all, you can use a search engine to locate hacker tools and peer-to-peer software. Get used to the absurd idea of a seachless internet. Or a search engine that does what search engines do in China — massive filtering. Of course, this will slow any search engine down to a crawl. Hello 1996 and the dial-up world.
Napster is out of the question, even though it is now legal (and struggling to survive). Past malefactors will be punished for sins of the father. Napster will likely soon go the way of the Brontosaurus.
Not surprisingly, the bill effectively outlaws WikiLeaks. I mean, after all, how can the commoners in merry old England expect the government to allow them to see what it or other governments do behind closed parliament doors? WikiLeaks has yet to post anything seriously jeopardizing national security. But then that misses the point. If you want to read WikiLeaks, you’ll have to migrate to Iceland. Ditto if you want to use a non-filtered Chinese-like (courtesy of Google) search engine.
No open Wi-Fi. How can you expect big corporate ISPs to make any money if you are getting on the internet free at the local pub or coffee shop? The bill does not actually outlaw Wi-Fi — it merely imposes on people who run these networks the legal responsibility to monitor their users who may be accessing copyrighted material. No sane business person will want to take the risk. Fait accompli.
Are you naughty — or maybe politically incorrect? If you were banned from one ISP for doing something wrong – watching flicks you did not pay for — you may as well get accustomed to the world of un-connectivity because the law will prevent you from going to another ISP. You will be on a black list. For now this is limited to getting caught accessing copyrighted material, but in the Brave New World of England’s police state it does not take a lot of imagination to imagine thousands of people banned from the internet for political or social reasons.
If you think the Digital Economy bill will be confined to Britain, think again — eventually nearly every police state scheme implemented there finds its way to the states. Ask Chicago about its London-like CCTV arrangement. Check out the green police now getting their start the same way bin cops and town snoops have done for some time in Britain. Big corporations and government are chomping at the bit not only to impose such restrictions here — they are also eager to tax the internet so only those of us with a degree of disposable income will be able to use it.
Will government kill the goose that laid the golden electronic egg?