stories filed under: "consequences"
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 20th 2012 4:27pm
I recently was able to attend an interesting Cato/Techfreedom/CEI debate on the unintended consequences of the rogue website crackdown. The specific focus (not surprisingly) was the debate over SOPA/PIPA, but thankfully some of the debate went further back, to discuss how the government and private actors were already using existing law to do questionable things to sites they declared "rogue." This became even more timely with the Megaupload takedown... which happened about the same time that this panel ended. It was especially nice to see some discussion over the problematic seizures around Dajaz1 and Rojadirecta, as well as the fact that Veoh went bankrupt defending a bogus copyright lawsuit under existing law. These are not "hypotheticals." These are real problems with today's law already. Many of the things people are worried about under SOPA are already possible. SOPA just took them to the next level. Anyway, the debate -- which includes Julian Sanchez, James Gatusso, Ryan Radia, Allan Friedman and Dan Kaminsky -- is well worth watching:
from the three-strikes-and-unintended-consequences dept
With the entertainment industry pushing hard for "three strikes" type laws that would kick people off the internet based on three accusations (not convictions) for online copyright infringement, it may be worth asking if there could be some serious unintended consequences associated with doing so. Reader Pickle Monger points us to a story, not about three strike disconnections, but about people taking the extreme step of cutting themselves off, and it quotes psychiatrist Jerald Block who who warns that a sudden disconnection can be quite harmful:
"If you are heavily active [on the internet], by disconnecting you are losing a significant relationship. Those 30 or 40 hours of time now have to be filled with real life."It's worth noting that Dr. Block is the same psychiatrist who, a few years ago, suggested that the Columbine tragedy may have been caused not by the two kids playing violent video games, but from being cut off from those games by their parents:
Dr Block says some people can find it very gratifying, while others find they are not capable of staying disconnected.
However, he believes the worst case scenario is when the decision to disconnect is made by a third party. "It can be a disaster and can even lead to suicide."
When Klebold and Harris are kicked off their computers, few, if any, would recognize just how important their virtual lives were to them. Most people wouldn't even know they were in trouble. That would make the punishment much more severe...Frankly, this theory sounds just about as extreme and unsupportable as the opposite one that blames video games for violence. If you're going to go on a rampage and kill people because you've lost your internet access, you've got bigger problems and issues than too strong a relationship with your computer. However, it does raise a point that is worth discussing: cutting people off suddenly from the internet may have serious unintended consequences. I don't think we'll see a wave of suicides or anything, but it does seem like an extreme response to something like file sharing, and it's at least slightly worrisome that no one pushing for such three strikes laws is even thinking about what impact cutting people off might have.
For heavy computer users, cutting them off can free up 30 or more hours a week. That is a lot of time to fill, especially for an enraged teen with limited social skills. Unwise. The second issue is to recognize that computer users have a relationship with their computers... As silly as it may sound, being cut off from the system might feel something like being cut off from your best friend...
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 9th 2009 8:30pm
from the careful-where-you-whistleblow dept
One of the great things about the internet these days is that it gives a platform for people who had no voice before to speak out. Of course, there are certain risks associated with that. Apparently a police officer in the Russian port of Novorossiisk put up a YouTube video accusing his superiors of corruption. The video got lots of attention (over 200,000 views) leading Russia's Interior Ministor (who is responsible for the police) to start a probe. That probe apparently lasted all of two hours before it ended and the police officer who made the video was fired. Of course, many will assume that this was punishing a whistleblower, which certainly sounds plausible -- though, an argument could also be made that if the guy really was making stuff up, that's pretty bad as well. Either way, it is a reminder that just because you have a platform to speak out (whether legitimately or not), it doesn't mean there aren't consequences for doing so (as unfair as those consequences might be in some cases).