interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

UK Downsized to Two Strikes

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 26, 2009

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Well, I must say I was sorry to hear that Great Britain has introduced a very scary Digital Economy Bill.

I first learned about it on Cory Doctorow’s Boing Boing Article: Britain’s new Internet law — as bad as everyone’s been saying, and worse. Much, much worse while doing a bit of research for my nearly completed NaNoWriMo novel.  I thought that the concept of a “Three Strikes Law: was insane enough, but we’re still in a global recesssion, so the British version is a slimmed down “Two Strikes” version.

I was particularly saddened to see HRH Queen Elizabeth read out the Bill’s introduction:

“My government will introduce a Bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers complicity of communications and enhances public service broadcasting. ”

— HRH Queen Elizabeth in BBC NEWS Government lays out digital plans

I realize that Her Majesty must rely on the advice of her government, but it seems that in the past she has usually demonstrated a better understanding of what is good for her country. Even if her grandchildren haven’t brought her up to speed on this one as far as the cultural aspects go, on a purely political front, this legislation essentially puts British Law enforcement to work as a collection agency for already over powerful media megacorporations.

Perhaps saddest is that this law will essentially do the opposite of what HRH’s remarks promised. This one statement has probably done more harm to the British Monarchy than any challenge faced in the 20th Century. Perhaps Elizabeth won’t have to deal with the after effects, but certainly her grandson will need to deal with the fallout.

Although this law does not directly affect Canada it may in fact turn around and bite us as well. The fact is that this type of foolishness tends to add an appearance of “legitimacy” to wrong headed lawmaking.

The absolute worst thing about all of these laws seems to me the lack of evidence. During the bloodiest Days of the French Revolution, all it took was one voice raised–


and ANYONE could wind up being trundled off to Madame Guillotine, guilty or not. Pressuring ISPs to inform on their customers is bad, yet even worse is the apparent lack of requirements for any evidentiary substantiation. The possibilities for abuse of such ill founded laws are staggering. Part of me wonders if this law will apply equally to the politicians and their families. What is really outrageous is that entire families can be made to suffer the punishment for one alleged offender. And the precedent for this is…?

Talk Talk is also challenging the law with this petition

Telegraph: Stephen Fry backs Digital Economy Bill protests looks at Stephen Fry’s Twitter campaign to support the Talk Talk petition.

BBC NEWS: Security warning over wireless networks British ISP TalkTalk illustrates how easily abuses will be able to happen, potentially implicating innocent users who could be easily targeted due to insecure wireless network connections.

“we’ve got to get over this mindset that peer-to-peer sharing of music is stealing.”

—Don Tapscott: The UK government’s Digital Economy Bill is deeply flawed

Channel 4's The I.T.Crowd cast

“Countries that declare war on copying – and on all those businesses that are born digital – are yielding their economic futures to countries that embrace it, creating a regime that nurtures the net and those who use it.”

—The Guardian’s Cory Doctorow: Why does Mandelson favour the Analogue Economy over the Digital?

Sadly it seems that the British Government isn’t savvy enough to watch Channel Four’s hilarious I.T. Crowd or they might realize the absolute ridiculousness of this type of legislation, as shown in the The I.T. Crowd parody video piracy commercial I found on YouTube.

Open Offer to Our British Cousins:

My BitTorrent post explains how BitTorrent actually works but more importantly it lists information about the many good legal uses for file sharing (and links). Since the blog is in the public domain you can use whatever will help make your case in submissions to your MP’s in challenging this bad law.

[*note:  a few creative commons images which do require attribution… basically anything with a photo-credit]

Speak out loudly.

This law criminalizes personal use copying, equating personal use downloading with professional bootleggers making a profit. This means that individuals will be liable for the £50,000 fine– the same as Joe Bootlegger.

Moving to a different jurisdiction will not help. It might appear to be a good idea short term, but this is happening EVERYWHERE. The only way to put this down is to fight. In every jursidiction. And help educate since the media isn’t about to. The best thing you can do is speak out.

I wish the United Kingdom good luck.

STOP Usage Based Billing

8 Responses to “UK Downsized to Two Strikes”

  1. […] November 2009 #32 Almost time to Dissolve the CRTC #33 10028 signatures #34 IGF2009: The Internet Governance Forum Blues #35 Vote Like A Pirate #37 UK Downsized to Two Strikes […]

  2. […] November 2009 #32 Almost time to Dissolve the CRTC #33 10028 signatures #34 IGF2009: The Internet Governance Forum Blues #35 Vote Like A Pirate #37 UK Downsized to Two Strikes […]

  3. […] November 2009 #32 Almost time to Dissolve the CRTC #33 10028 signatures #34 IGF2009: The Internet Governance Forum Blues #35 Vote Like A Pirate #37 UK Downsized to Two Strikes […]

  4. RobertX said

    Just so you know, you accidentally put the November posts under October. Just trying to help.

    • Laurel L. Russwurm said

      Thanks. (There weren’t really supposed to be any November posts due to NaNoWriMo…. but it’s hard to stay away from your blogs 🙂

  5. RobertX said

    This kind of s*** has been brewing around in the European Union. New Zealand has already adopted the milder version: the three strikes penalty. I pray that the U.K. will not change its name to “Airstrip One.”

  6. Eddie said

    Under Liebour,
    everyone in the U.K is a criminal (except government themselves)
    taking quangoes “BAD” advice & turning it into law!
    we seem to be living under mild (for the time being) communism, snitch on your neighbour,
    don’t do this, don’t do that, since when did a buch of Oxbridge graduates know what is good for
    the country, out of touch with reality isn’t the word for it!

    • Laurel L. Russwurm said

      I’m learning so much! I had to look up “quangoes”:

      “Quango or qango is an acronym (variously spelt out as quasi non-governmental organisation, quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation, and quasi-autonomous national government organisation) used notably in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere to label colloquially an organisation to which government has devolved power. In the United Kingdom the official term is “non-departmental public body” or NDPB.”


      Thank you, it’s an excellent word to know as the definition quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation rather describes our own CRTC which seems bent on damaging Canada to feed the greed of our monopolistic Internet carriers.

      It strikes me that today’s governments in general seem rather out of touch with reality, but the worst of it is that they are acting in the interests of corporate special interests to the detriment of their citizenry. Is it stupidity, ignorance, fear or corruption?   Whatever the reason, the effect is that globally governments are abdicating authority to corporations. It certainly seems as though they are embracing the new political system foretold in the film Idiocracy.

      We must all do what we can to stop these bad things from happening.

Leave a Reply to RobertX Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: