Thursday, July 31, 2008

File-sharing Article in the Guardian

Today the Guardian published "Illegal filesharing: A suicide note from the music industry" by Toronto author/activist Cory Doctorow, condemning the recent collaboration between net providers and the music industry (there they're often the same here in the UK: Virgin) to punish file-sharers. This will involve serious invasions into our privacy (which the War on Terror has acclimatized us to) and eventually will see service providers cutting off customers who engage in file-swapping. I always imagine a parent who works from home to support his/her family discovering s/he no longer has access to the internet because one of the kids downloaded a few too many albums.

Potential abuses of this new power of surveillance are frightening, also. Of course there are industry assurances that it will only be used to monitor downloading, but that rings a little hollow, given recent stories about the NSA terrorist suspect list topping a million Americans, or security camera operators found mostly zooming in on women in skirts. When police tazers were introduced we were promised they were a humane addition the officer's arsenal: now he could use non-lethal force to subdue a suspect. However, there are frequent reports of Tazer deaths, including just two days when a 19 year old boy was tazered 19 times after falling from a bridge and breaking his back.

As Doctorow suggests, "A gun on the mantle in act one is bound to go off by act three."

I'm bracing for this type of agreement in North American, particularly if the Democrats take power. The entertainment industry might be to the Democrats what Big Oil are to the Republicans: big campaign donors, expecting something in return.

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