New Zealand Brings Back Three Strikes… With Some Oversight

from the well,-it's-a-step dept

Last year, you may recall that New Zealand tried to sneak through a “three strikes” type law that relied solely on accusations and would kick people off the internet. After first resisting, the government realized that public outrage over the plan was too strong and scrapped the plan, but admitted it was planning to try again, though with a bit more oversight.

It looks like that’s exactly what’s happened. The New Zealand government has released its new three strikes plan that is a bit more sane. You can still get kicked off the internet, which is troubling, but it’s a much more involved process. The system involves a notice-and-notice offering, whereby copyright holders notify an ISP, who notifies the user. After three notices, you don’t face disconnection, but a government tribunal, who can fine the user monetarily, but only to recover “damages,” not for punitive reasons. Finally, if there are still more signs of infringement, the rights holder can take the user to court, which can lead to much larger fines and the possibility of losing an internet connection for six months. Throughout the process, the user will be able to appeal.

This is certainly a lot more reasonable than the original plan, but I still find any plan that involves kicking people off the internet entirely for their actions to be draconian and impossible to enforce reasonably. These days, your mobile phone or even a desk phone may use the internet, and many people require internet access for their jobs. It seems ridiculous to kick people off entirely.

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Comments on “New Zealand Brings Back Three Strikes… With Some Oversight”

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Chargone (profile) says:

Oh, bloody hell...

Not this Again.

“The NZ Cabinet paper also notes that the government is currently negotiating ACTA and free trade agreements that could require legislative reform. ”

I really, REALLY wish our government would just get the FUCK OVER the whole free trade thing. every damn time it comes up they screw over the public for the mere Possibility of such, and the only visible end result from the consumer’s point of view is domestically produced necessities going up in price because the international market will pay that much.

Implementing the three strikes thing at All is moronic (nothing new there. NZ’s government’s specialty isn’t not screwing up, it’s screwing up in new and interesting ways… very British, actually… but there’s yet another rant there), though if it must be done the way it appears to be now looks to be the best way to be about it… but the Reason for it! gah!

Oh, and it should be noted that it’s not unheard of for these things to go through the entire process of public hearings and votes and so on, be all corrected into something workable, or at least acceptable… then have most of the changes chucked or the most objectionable bits jammed back in just before the last, official vote (a single individual can do this by themselves if the MPs aren’t paying attention in the final reading). The Politicians hear about it, but they vote the way the party tells them to. (not that they’re as bought and payed for as American politicians, though there’s a bit of that… just self interested and/or blinded to reality by ideology and tradition). Then our Governor General (Head of State when the monarch’s not here (AKA all the time but maybe one week in five years or more, it feels like) … so, Acting? meh …meh) signs the thing… stupid rubber stamp process… the Governer is functionally filling the entire useful role of an upper house (we only have one house in our parliament) so you can see where the whole tradition of rubber stamping everything (to avoid a constitutional crisis… yeah, let’s just piss all over the whole point of the exercise to avoid risking having to test it… sorry, another pet rant there) is a major problem.

whoa… way too many parentheses.

oh, and then there’s the pattern of Party A proposing a thing, Party B saying “no, change this”, Party A says no. Party B’s like “meh, ok, we’ll vote for it” … A and B being National and Labour…

sorry, this article just fed directly into so many of my objections to our political system here in New Zealand.

in other commentary, the republican, communist, and nazi parties [not all called by that] never get anywhere here, and the monarchist party doesn’t even bother running, because the republican party never gets any traction…

now if only we actually had a party that Didn’t suck (you’ve got a choice of various types of radicals (who typically have about half their ideas brilliantly right… and whoever came up with the rest should be shot. into the sun. this applies to all of them.) and traditionalists (still want everyone to think we’re running first past the post elections and that voting for anyone other than one of them is a wasted vote. it’s not. they’re also ‘center left’ and ‘center right’ and seem to aspire only to holding onto their seats and pay packets. they typically respond to crisis well, but don’t Ever let them get bored or you get, well… stuff like this.)

ok, i have no Idea how much (little) of that is on topic, and the parenthetical remarks are rediculous, but… this needed saying.

now if only people who could do something with it would read it and not dismiss it as who knows what due to it not meshing with their ideology… whee…

meanwhile, most Techdirt readers just get to see yet another broken system in action.

i wonder how much of the post will get cut off due to my odd use of punctuation this time? i did avoid everything but .,()?! and capital letters. maybe it’ll be ok…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, bloody hell...

oh, wow… my comment’s almost twice as long as the original article, and maybe 1/4th of it is on topic?

so sorry about that :-S

for those who don’t want to read it all but actually care (all -1 of you :S) , the on topic bit basically said they seem to have found the best possible, and maybe even a workable, way to do this… but doing it is still dumb.

Lobo Santo's Ugly : says:

Reality check: If you drive your car too fast too often, the government “kicks you off the road”. If you break too many laws, the government “kicks you out of society” (jail).

The internet isn’t a special magicial fairy place where everything is great and nothing bad happens. People break the law online, and they need to be held accountable at some level. Without a mechanism that make sit possible to remove offenders, there is little reason to stop doing what is not wanted.

I think the Swedish model is turning out pretty good: remove the anonymous factor, and suddenly people because responsible for their actions.

Bad AnalogyGuy says:

Re: Re:

Wow, you are being particularly moronic this morning.
The internet is not like a highway. How many time must this be said. Oh, well some folks are just too dense.

If you get a ticket for speeding, there is a court date where the officer or camera has to appear and then you have an opportunity to release your lawyer upon them. I doubt that the judge would be very sympathetic to pleas from the officer that (s)he thought you were speeding even though there was no proof. Just the other there was a story here about an officer that heard the perp speeding.

Just that act of using a p2p app can get you accused of infringement. It does not matter what you were doing, in fact you may not even up or down load anything – just join the swarm and you are guilty. Guilt by association I suppose.

So, do not hang around anywhere near a street because you might get a speeding ticket even though you are not driving or even in a vehicle.

cc says:

Re: Re:

Of course. But, that brings us back to the old Techdirt philosophical debate about “Is a ‘crime’ online the same as a crime offline?”, “Is downloading mp3s illegal like stealing offline, or is it just immoral?”, “Should governments take action to protect companies from the public instead of the other way round?”

Tyanna says:

Re: Re:

If you get too many speeding tickets, your license is suspended for a time. Your car is not taken away, and you are most defiantly not kicked off the road. You can ride in other people’s cars, and you can use other forms of transportation.

And I would like to point out, even inmates have access to the internet. So even people you feel have been ‘kicked out of society’ still have access to something that you think the government has the authority to take away from people.

Before you jump on this wagon again, try thinking about how this would be enforced. How would someone work or go to school? Would you be expected to hand in your cellphone? What about your laptop? Or are you just not allowed to go to wireless hotspots?

This whole idea is unrealistic, and it’s time the governments of the world realized that. I just hope they do before they start dumping money into trying to enforce it.

Lobo Santo's Ugly : says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your argument is compelling on the outside, lacking in structure on the inside.

Inmates have access to the internet, yes – yet Kevin Mitnick spent 5 years without any access. That is very similar to the concept of three strikes, and is supported by the legal system. kevin is a nice guy (I had dinner with him and his girlfriend once a few years bad), but he is exactly like a habitual speeder or dangerous driver. At some point, society as a whole needs to do something to enforce it’s rules.

The idea is very realistic. Just like bail or probation restrictions, you cannot use the internet. If you are caught on the internet (say updating your facebook profile) you can end up in a heap of trouble.

I think that this, combined with a US version of IPRED or similar to remove much of the anonymous hiding would be a big step in the right direction. Basically, if you want to keep violating copyright, do it with your name attached like a man, not hiding in a fox hole like a coward.

Matthew Cruse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Right, but as has been pointed out before, the internet is not a highway, and filesharing is not speeding. Realistically the speeding laws are in place to protect the public good (I know I know, 55 saves gas etc etc). 20 MPH in a school zone to protect kids, 35 on residential streets etc. Filesharing physically harms who? It is not theft in the traditional sense. A file shared has not deprived anyone of anything. If person A shares an mp3 with person B, that was legally purchased from company C, Company C has a copy, Person A has a copy and person B has a copy. Nobody deprived. nobody harmed. and Person B copy does not equal lost sale to company C. Research has shown, filesharing actually promotes future sales. No physical harm, conclusive evidence of no monetary harm, so whats the point?

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really? It “kicks you off the road”? So you can never take a taxi or ride a bus? You have to walk avoiding the known roads, so you can only travel cross country? And if your job requires you to, I don’t know, travel from your house to your workplace, you can get fired. Yeah, that’s very reasonable. Let’s kick everyone off the internet, it’s not like anyone needs it. Everyone should go back to the farms and plow the earth for a living. There are no roads there, and probably internet it is not a necessity either.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, I got a great idea: if anyone uses a phone for unlawful purposes, let’s kick them off the phone network! Wait, what’s that? You need a known phone number to get a bank account? To get insurance? To call an ambulance? To get contacted by the police or government? Oh, my, well, they could use carrier pigeons instead. It’s not like they had phones in the middle ages, and we all know everything was fine and dandy back then.

. says:

Re: Re:

Your reality checker is broken dude.

If you do bad things on the road “you” get punished not your whole family.

When you do bad things in society “you” get punished not your whole neighborhood, family, third cousins, the place you work, your co-workers etc.

Besides the industry should do something about those freeloaders that don’t pay a penny when they watch TV and listen to radio those damn pirates!

Anonymous Coward says:

3 strikes is like death penalty on the internet. Lost revenue for the content industries for something that you might have possibly eventually bought is not comparable to your inability to function properly (which the internet enables, right now).

Also, you get “kicked off the road” only if you’re driving, not as a passenger… and driving too fast may actually kill someone, unlike sharing content. And you only go to jail (at least where I live) for serious offenses. So yes, it’s completely disproportionate.

Removing the anonymous factor is the first step to a police state. Providing tools that may enable a police state is not good democratic hygiene.

Anonymous Coward says:

Analogy time

The old rule, was analogous to this:
If you played music in your own home, your neighbours only needed to complain about the noise three times, before your electricity got cut off.

Under the new rule, the neighbours would need 3 police reports, before your electricity gets cut off.

It’s marginally more fair, but hardly the right punishment for the crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Analogy time

The point is this: After the first warning, most people will change their behavior. After the second warning, most of the remaining people will change their behavior. The small group that makes it to the third warning are pretty much dumb as stumps and deserve what they get.

You make it sound like there would be no communication to those who are charged. You make it sound like there would be no way to correct the offending behavior. That isn’t the case.

Stop sharing stolen materials, and you won’t have any issues. It’s amazing how that works.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Analogy time

If you come here, better be prepared to use the proper terms.
Let’s get one thing straight:
Copyright infringements, while they are illegal, it’s not theft. Never has been, never will be.
No property changed hands, and there is no proof that ‘piracy’ has a detrimental effect on the bottom line of a business.

As for your point “stop sharing [copyright infringing] materials”, I will when the industry offers me the products and services that I actually want.
I don’t want region locking, nor do I want DRM, nor do I want obscure formats, or vendor lock-in, nor do I wish to pay DVD-boxset prices for a download.

Offer me a digital copy of a tv show or movie, for a reasonable price, and I can play it on my mobile (or other handheld device), on my tv and on my computer, without treating me as a “potential thief”, and you can have my patronage.
And better hurry up, because the longer the media industry waits with this, the lower the price will have to be in order to compete, or win over the general public.

“You make it sound like there would be no communication to those who are charged. You make it sound like there would be no way to correct the offending behavior. That isn’t the case.”
No where in my story did I say that. But you can have unreasonable neighbours, for whom a cough is enough to complain about the noise.
And what about recourse for the accused? Can I argue for my case? and get that ‘strike’ removed from my record?

And it’s still not a reasonable punishment for the crime.
Because the internet is used for a whole lot more than just “piracy”. Banking, etc, would be made impossible under this law. “Sorry, mr. Taxman, I can’t pay my taxes, because my bank only has an internet presence, and I am forbidden to use the internet.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Analogy time

So, so true. With other kinds of offenses we could do the same. For instance, you could warn a thief 3 times and after the third time cut his hands off. He might just have stolen a pen or something, but nobody will want to steal if they know they can get their hands cut off. You may call that disproportionate, but he caused a damage of a lot of dollars to a private entity, why not cripple him for life?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Analogy time

Your point might be valid if completely innocent people (people without computers and the deceased, even) haven’t been sent cease and desist notices for sharing content that was impossible for them to actually share. The problem with systems like this is that there are so many false positives.

Plus, the whole “if you don’t break the law you don’t have to worry” thing is just a poor argument. Would you support the government mandating that VNC be installed on your computer so that they could see what you’re doing? Or installing cameras in your home? After all, as long as you’re not doing anything illegal you’ll be fine.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Analogy time

You know that grandma that got accused of infringing (sorry, I meant “murder”, or was it “stealing”? wait, I know, it was “murderkillstealing”) and didn’t even own a computer? Gee whiz, that’s strike one for Granny! If one day she gets a computer, she’ll only have two strikes left!

If only she had stopped sharing “stolen materials” in her non-existing internet connection, she wouldn’t have any issues! It’s amazing how that works.

. says:

Re: Re: Analogy time

Completely agree with you.

People should stop sharing that copyrighted crap.

There is so much alternatives to music that you don’t ever need to pay for it.

Movies has a way to go but is getting there there is a lot of free content that is legal and is fun too.

There I agree lets go after the free alternatives, don’t buy from people that would use that money to hurt you.


The last time I bought a CD was a decade ago, DVD I don’t remember I just don’t buy that crap anymore.

And I don’t buy software either, but I do contribute for some projects that I like.

We have free music, there is coming free movies and we already have a very well developed free software eco-system.


You can keep your crap I don’t mind.

Michael (profile) says:

Banning people from the internet

Some commenters have been comparing banning someone from the internet to taking away a driver’s license. This analogy may have been good several years ago, but it no longer is.

The internet has become too much of a common use technology. This gives you two problems. The first is that it is nearly unenforceable. The banned person would have to be constantly monitored to ensure they don’t do things like use a credit card or ATM that transmits via TCP/IP. The technology is used so extensively, the banning would either have to be for specific uses of the internet if it could work at all.

The second problem is that the internet is tied to too many people’s livelihood. Now, truck drivers have had their licenses revoked for drunk driving – thus taking away their livelihood. However, the courts have to take this into account when considering the punishment fitting the crime. A 3-strikes type law does not allow for this type of distinction and is much more likely to leave someone unable to continue to be a productive member of society. It is not cutting someone’s hand off for stealing a pen, but it is likely to be taking away their entire means of income.

In consideration of this type of law, the lawmakers should be asked to have a clear understanding of this. Is it acceptable punishment to take away someone’s income for the duration of the punishment (and very likely longer as they need to find a new job once they can use the internet again)?

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