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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  1. identicon
    Michael, 16 Dec 2009 @ 7:39am

    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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