Today I read that New Zealand likes to have the famous three strikes law such as it is implemented in France. After France and the UK it is another country trying to impose punishments against copyright abusers. Three strikes simply means that after three times of copying illegal content from the Internet or sharing it, your Internet access will be shut down.
People stealing the intellectual property of others and violating copyright laws should be punished, okay so far. What is the point of denying them the access to the Internet other than abusing this power to get rid off annoying people? Seriously, if someone hurts other people with a pen, it is very unlikely that the state will take all pens from him and say that he will have to go to prison if he touches a pen the the next six months, that is pathetic. To me it appears that there are two major issues covered with this ridiculous approach:
At first, the responsible do not know what to do about copyright infringement and instead of appearing to do nothing, they do something stupid instead. Secondly, once implemented this ‘tool’ can be used to shut down the Internet access of individual people. Why this might be interesting for the state authority is something everybody can think about his/ her own.
The second point though leads to another interesting topic entangled with the three strikes stuff: webfilter. While the parties are still arguing about it in Germany, Australia just announced its approach to introduce a webfilter their own. Not a bad approach, because a lot more people will be denied the freedom of unbiased information. Unfortunately for the state authority, webfilters are easy to bypass if you have some basic understanding of ICTs.
Another point which is not covered by recent news is the use of webfilters on the home-pc in order to ‘protect’ your children. Programs such as cyberpatrol help you with that. I might take up the garden path but I do not think that these kind if programs are good. I am using the pc since I was eight years old and I never sumbled upon ‘indecent’ content by accident. In my opinion the Internet should be free for everyone even though media competency is something that should be taught as early as possible.
There are three points I like to make about these three actions. At first, whatever their aim is and whatever they might be called, alle these actions are ways of censorship. That has to be made crystal clear. Secondly, as I argued in an early article, access to the Internet should be regarded as a human right. Therefore it is out of the question that this basic freedom should be denied to anyone no matter why. The last thing is, and somehow explains why I do not think that all this is a good idea, ask yourself who decides what gets filtered and whose Internet is shut down. Blacklists are not made available for the broader public and the same people who introduce the law are the people deciding about the way of execution. Please do not tell me something about the differentiation between executive and legislative… in some countries, and Germany is one of them, the boundary is more than just blurred. If something should be done than it is international co-operation and direct action against people violating laws and not a general judgement such as webfilters do represent. Furthermore, the way how these actions are conducted should be transparent and not violate any important freedoms such as the informational self-determination*.
Keep the Internet and all the information on it free. Information is what made the Internet one of the most important inventions humans made.
*this is a German legal term. In general it means that everyone should be free to inform himself/ herself and consume any information he or she likes. The state-authority is not allowed to force individuals to only use a certain kind of source and should not implement any obstacles which are directed against citizen using whatever information sources they want to use.