Unelected plutocrat Peter Mandelson has pointed the way to a less free internet today, by announcing that Britain will be adopting an anti-filesharing piracy policy much like the one that has just been voted into legislation in France. This will take the form of two warning letters, followed by the cutting-off of persistent offenders.
The temptation to rant at length about the wrong-headedness of this ploy is almost too strong to resist, but I frankly don’t have the time. I’m in the throes of plot and prep for Nanowrimo, which begins this Sunday, and I’m off out to a meet with Dom for next weeks reshoots on Time Out. So I’ll limit this to a few questions about the policy, which I’m sure a lot of concerned citizens today are also asking.
1) If the so-called “persistent offender” is using a shared internet connection, say if they are one member of a family or household, what repercussions are there likely to be for the other, completely innocent members, using the same connection entirely legally?
2) It has been proven by internet provider Talk Talk that many broadband wireless connections in the UK are vulnerable to attack and exploitation by criminals who could download content illegally and leave the hapless subscriber to face the music. Or lack of, if they can’t get to their Spotify subscription anymore. What safeguards are the government planning on putting into place to ensure that the name on the bill is the person doing the dirty download?
3) How is this new policy to be policed and enforced? If I was found guilty of downloading, for example, what would stop me from taking a laptop into my local Starbucks and accessing the web from there? Or buying a 3G dongle, or using an iPhone connection, or simply sniffing out someone else’s connection and jumping on that? Short of removing all web-accessible devices from my home (and good luck wresting TLC’s Macbook or iPhone from her, BTW) how could you possibly stop me?
That’s three. Like I say, I could go on. The whole idea is simply stupid. Stupid, and doomed to failure. Oh, and according to the Times this morning, liable to create a major security risk too. Ha.