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Did The UK Gov't Back Down On Three Strikes… Or Did It Just Change What It Called It?

from the seems-like-the-latter dept

There were a smattering of reports that the UK gov’t was backing down on plans to implement three strikes rules as part of Peter Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill. That would be a pretty big surprise, if true, as kicking people off the internet based on accusations (not convictions) had been the key thing Mandelson wanted after his little dinner with David Geffen last summer (after barely caring about this particular issue at all). But, it appears that reality is that this is just UK politicians playing games with words. Apparently, the political wordsmiths decided that “disconnection” is too harsh a word to describe the policy (even if it’s accurate), and are now going with “temporary account suspension” (even though it does mean you’re disconnected from your account). So when a petition came through asking the government not to disconnect those accused of file sharing, the government had no problem saying “sure,” even though it still supports temporary account suspension. And copyright supporters accuse those in favor of reform as playing word games?

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Comments on “Did The UK Gov't Back Down On Three Strikes… Or Did It Just Change What It Called It?”

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19 Comments
Nick says:

However the bill is worded and whatever they call it this is all somewhat irrelevent. It is one of those fantastic sideline issues in British politics that Brown and his men are trying to use to divert attention from the fact they are highly unpopular government and will lose the next general election. The more the press debate this the less they examine the Labour Governemt which is a good thing (as far as labour are concerned anyway)

They can word it as they wish, it will never become law

Anonymous Coward says:

the fact they are highly unpopular government and will lose the next general election.

————————————————————

Someones been reading too many comic books instead of newspapers I see…

Do yourself a favour and avoid the red tops.

None of the political parties are that popular at the moment and its looking more and more like a hund parliament every day that goes by.

The press haven’t let up on labour atall.

You think any other party is not going to have something on file sharing? File sharing takes away profit from someone and the tories are not that into sharing and losing profit…

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Look further ahead

This ‘temporary account suspension’ is just an overture.

What we’re really looking forward to are two tier accounts:
Tier 1: Unlicensed/domestic accounts – temporarily suspendable in the event of copyright infringement accusations.
Tier 2: Licensed/business accounts – not suspendable.

Tier 2 is effectively an Internet/ISP tax via the back door. No-one has to pay it (the license fee), but it’s there if you need the reassurance that your account won’t be throttled or suspended on the paltry strength of someone’s accusation. Obviously, domestic users are always free to opt for this account, so can’t say they’re denied access to the Internet.

That’s just around the corner…

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Look further ahead

What we’re really looking forward to are two tier accounts:
Tier 1: Unlicensed/domestic accounts – temporarily suspendable in the event of copyright infringement accusations.
Tier 2: Licensed/business accounts – not suspendable.

Unfortunately for them much of the filesharing occurs on :

Tier 3 : Hacked accounts that can’t be suspended because they don’t “exist” in the first place.

We teach computer forensics – which involves some contact with people at the sharp end of computer crime in the UK.

In some areas very few people are “on” the internet although actually almost everyone is. They’ve bought hacked hardware from a bloke in the pub or the corner shop and bypassed the cable company’s security. Apparently this is very easy to do.

On top of that it is very difficult to prosecute the people who sell the hacked devices because if you assemble a jury of twelve people locally the odds are that at least 4 are using hacked boxes themselves…

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Look further ahead

Richard, the media industry isn’t interested in preventing the distribution of unauthorised copies (given they’re promotional). They’re interested in leveraging copyright to maximise revenue.

They don’t give a damn whether the account holder is responsible for infringement or not, and by definition, tier 2 accounts are licensed to share as many copies as they like (whether done by a trojan or the account holder).

You may not have picked this point up, but 3-strikes/graduated response is based on accusation only. If the account holder believes they can prove it was a hacker that engaged in the alleged infringement then the account holder has to pay for the pleasure of a lengthy tribunal.

So, the poor domestic punter is basically shafted. If they can’t keep themselves and their computer squeaky clean, well, they’ll just have to upgrade to a tier 2 account (unless they can afford a tribunal). And you’ll find that over the subsequent years around 10% of the population per annum will be accused of infringement at random (no evidence is needed) precisely in order to increase the revenue from tier 2 accounts. This is the strategy to migrate all Internet users to upstanding tax payers.

The media industry know copyright has ended, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange it for a compulsory ISP license aka Internet tax.

There’s no prospect more appealing to a corporation than to be able to effectively tax the population for communicating, i.e. receive vast amounts of money for doing nothing. Government won’t be shy either. They’ll want to piggy-back their own tax on top. The copyright license fee is a stalking horse.

If you can’t afford to pay for a tier 2 account then your absence from it is no loss to anyone.

This is the trajectory. It could be adjusted, but to wean a population away from the cultural corruption of copyright is like weaning them from the cancer of tobacco. The prospect of becoming wealthy through selling their copyright to a publisher gives people far too much comfort to even tolerate the idea that it should be abolished. Limiting it to a few decades is like sticking a piece of foam on the end of a cigarette.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Look further ahead

Crosbie,

I don’t diagree with any of what you said – of course the people who suffer are always the legitimate paying customers.

I was just pointing out that these measures provide a further incentive to go down the totally illegal road of hacking your internet connection.

The criminals will always get around these things. Copyright is (like drug prohibition) a wonderful business opportunity for organised crime.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Look further ahead

Ah thanks, Richard. I get your point now.

Yes, there is a consequent incentive for the ‘disconnected’ (ot those worried about it) to piggy-back on other people’s accounts. But then, like escaped slaves in the barn, if they don’t want to be discovered then they will behave themselves.

No doubt WiMAX will become popular, as will mobile phone ‘pay as you go’ accounts (that will probably rise in price accordingly).

Alex Bowles (profile) says:

Re: Look further ahead

This scheme is, of course, the exact inverse of what should develop.

Tier 1 (unlicensed / domestic) should be free and clear, with their holders protected from claims of copyright infringement.

Tier 2 (licensed / business) should be heavily monitored, with any commercial use of intellectual works being registered on an exchange that would ensure that creators were being properly paid for the work they make available to incorporated (i.e. non-human) entities.

This scheme preserves individual liberty while providing a market for works used by organizations that freely sacrifice a measure of liberty in return for the limited protection from liability offered by the state.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Look further ahead

Nice observation.

However, while making copyright apply only to corporations is certainly far more ethical, I doubt it is particularly likely. The motivating force here is not for the liberty of the individual, but for the profit of the corporation.

If the people want their liberty back they’re going to have to wake from their slumber in the corporate yoke.

Mike C. (profile) says:

One possible outcome...

You know, throughout all of this, I don’t think the “powers that be” have considered the possible backlash. While I spend plenty of time on respectable blogs (i.e. Techdirt), I also frequent some not-so-respectable sites (i.e. Fark).

Assume a 3-strikes law IS passed both in the UK and the USA. Just how well do the PTB’s think groups like Anonymous are going to take this? How long before a semi-organized hacking effort is established to make it look like all the PTB’s are “illegally downloading”?

To be honest, I suspect the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is because it hasn’t been worth the effort. I both fear and look forward to the day it is.

Semantics? says:

disconnection vs temporary account suspension

“Apparently, the political wordsmiths decided that “disconnection” is too harsh a word to describe the policy (even if it’s accurate), and are now going with “temporary account suspension” (even though it does mean you’re disconnected from your account).”

This way they can claim that you still need to pay your monthly bill, even though you are unable to use the service for which you are being charged. I imagine that they will implement some sort of ETF in order to discourage the customer from terminating their account. Would be interesting if there were competition in the marketplace, in that some ISPs might offer service without the ETF – but then I might win the lotto too.

theyworkforyou (user link) says:

they work for you, write them.... today

what people seem to be missin gis the fact the bill
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/digitaleconomy.html
has Not got to the Report stage yet, that happens in 7 days
Report stage: House of Lords | 01.03.2010

so make the time and go write your letters to the lords that have been taking part on the commitee stages and others Before the report stage takes place and You Might stand a chance to have your opinion heard.

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=33047
http://lordsoftheblog.net/home/

https://nodpi.org/forum/index.php?action=unread

NAMELESS.ONE says:

@ 5

you mean like the 5000 assembled NON script kiddy hackers of the
United Hackers Association now has?

Like the fact that if you can say i have 300 members in each country that has internet.

I would have in 2000 had a hard time getting a total of 150 members. THIS number grows by the day. IT is including teachers, students , users of the net …everyone.

WE ARE FORMING A USERS UNION OF THE INTERNET
we will not be dictated too buy greedy , lazy people who wish there kids and there grand kids to suck peoples hard earned NON LAZY money out of the economy and destroy human rights

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