Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tightening the 'net

Your humble Devil—once he has exhausted not only all of the decent periodicals but also progressed through every 'sleb mags no matter how trashy—is occasionally forced to resort to buying The New Scientist. It is passably interesting in places, although the editors' continued adherence to the Stern Report—which has been comprehensively ripped apart and dismissed by anyone with anyone with any knowledge of science or economics—is, frankly, fucking irritating.

However, something did catch my eye in the current issue (alongside the astronomical details which I mostly enjoy): it seems that our Lords and Masters are not only discussing food prices and unrealistic carbon targets at the G8 summit...

The full article is, unfortunately, behind a paywall, but you'll get the gist from the first few paragraphs.
IT SOUNDS much like any other yawn-inducing cross-border treaty. But the nascent Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that's on the table at this week's G8 meeting in Japan may have far-reaching consequences. If it becomes international law, anyone who offers copyrighted files over the internet or downloads them may be labelled a criminal and forcibly disconnected from the net.

ACTA aims to make it easier to penalise and prosecute people running websites or networks that aid and abet the sharing of copyrighted content, including music, movies, TV shows and books. While copyright infringement is already illegal, policing it across multiple borders has been difficult, especially as fleet-of-foot file-sharers can shift their operations from one jurisdiction to another at the click of a mouse. By enshrining ACTA principles in national laws, the G8 hopes to make flight pointless.

My, my: doesn't that sound familiar? Doesn't it sound almost exactly like the Soviet-style internet controls that the European Union has just—since my last article—recently passed?

Yes, yes, it does. And there's more on Wikileaks (as quoted in the NS).
The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws which could make the information on Canadian iPods, laptop computers or other personal electronic devices illegal and greatly increase the difficulty of travelling with such devices.

The deal could also impose strict regulations on Internet service providers, forcing those companies to hand over customer information without a court order.

Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the new plan would see Canada join other countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, to form an international coalition against copyright infringement.

The agreement is being structured much like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) except it will create rules and regulations regarding private copying and copyright laws.

Federal trade agreements do not require parliamentary approval.

The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

No, that is not the way in which laws are supposed to work. Police and suchlike are supposed to uphold the law, not decide who has actually broken it. All people are supposed to be equal under the law and, in civilised countries, we have trials (hopefully fair ones) to decide whether people have actually broken said law.

When police act as judge, jury and executioner, we call that a police state.

It seems that the entire Western world is being towards totalitarianism by our Lords and Masters. And thus we are going to have to hang them all...


Anonymous said...

Well with the EU as the 9th member you can hardly expect decency.

International law is usually a PR tool for governments to looks as if they’re doing something while in reality doing nothing at all, but this reads more like part of the soviet manifesto. Of course, like the soviets this won’t need any approval from us.

The scariest part, if true, is this (from Wikipedia):

“Newspaper reports indicate that the proposed agreement would empower security officials... to conduct random ex officio searches of laptops, MP3 players, and cellular phones for illegally downloaded or "ripped" music and movies.”

Since when did breach of copyright warrant the use of antiterrorism measures?

“The deal could also impose strict regulations on Internet service providers, forcing those companies to hand over customer information without a court order.”

Well, so much for justice, standards of evidence, fair trials and all that old claptrap then.

What next, the death penalty for using a standard light bulb?

Panopticon Britain said...

Ripped CDs? Does this mean we will be punished for listening to music we legally bought?

Anonymous said...

Still, it might be amusing to watch these deranged cretins try to check the provenance of every file on every laptop, desktop, MP3 player, phone or other computing device on the planet. Most of the population would have to be conscripted into the lunatic bureaucracy, leaving little manpower for other things like growing food or making stuff. Can we hang them all now?

TheFatBigot said...

The answer to the practical problem highlighted by Mr Smogmonster is that this measure will be used primarily against the softest possible targets - lots of little fines imposed (by penalty charge notice not court proceedings) on individuals stupid enough to take a knock-off dvd through customs or to have tunes on their i-pod without carrying a paper receipt for purchase of the download.

When the big music and film companies complain that the black market is still huge there will be another massive junket in some exotic location and the powers will be widened with such massive fines that ISPs will block any downloads of films or music except those from sites run by the big corporations.

Mark my words, for I am Nostrafatbigot.

Roger Thornhill said...

In other words we will be subject to search without warrant and then have to prove our innocence to the goon standing there wishing to achieve his target or quota.

Yes, police state sums it up.

Anonymous said...

May I recommend Scientific American as a superior publication written to a much higher standard than the New Scientist. The latter often carries speculative articles (without their being billed as such), and is not in the same league.

Thank you for the excellent blog, by the way.

NHS Fail Wail

I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...