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three strikes and you're offline

·365 words
Andy Jackson
Andy Jackson
Fighting entropy since 1993

I noticed this boingboing article and despaired. This ridiculous legislation, which has already been explicitly rejected by the EU, attempts to enforce a “three strikes and you’re out” approach to copyright infringement. Those pushing for these rules have now tried to attach them to another, otherwise reasonable piece of telecoms legislation. Whether or not you agree with this in principle, the legislation on offer is hopelessly broken…

The main problem is the lack of accountability and due process. The music industry has made a number of high-profile mistaken accusations, and all they have to do is inform your ISP that they think you’ve been naughty, and that is a strike against you. Three accusations (not actual convictions, just unsubstantiated, unanswerable accusations) and your internet connection is taken away.

Of course, even if they’ve got the right IP address (the number that identifies your computer on the internet), and hooked it up to the right household, it’s a bit of a stretch to presume all the users of that connection are guilty. It casts aside the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing, and even if it was due to a third-party hacking into your wireless network, or simply a house guest of an unfortunate disposition, it still counts against you (and presumably, unlike points on your driving licence, these strikes never expire). Do you depend on your internet connection for your income? Tough luck - there are no exceptions for you or anyone else. The only option is for you to take them to court to prove your own innocence.

There’s no shortage of idiocy where politics and technology meet, but this was idiotic enough to make me take some action. I went to Write To Them, a rather brilliant website that makes it extremely easy to find about and write to your political representatives (Councillors, MPs and MEPs). I looked around for a good basic letter on the issue and modified it to state my case, and then sent it to my MEPs. It took about ten minutes, and perhaps it will help make a difference.

If you want to do something, you can find out more information via the Open Rights Group site.