If you're in Europe and use the Internet, these new laws put your connection in the hands of a private company who does not have to answer to the courts or other mechanisms of law. They have to spy on you, and three accusations means you're out. No appeal, no actual investigation or chance to answer the accuser. I know I'm late to the party, but e-mail and phone your MSPs. If you're in the UK, you can write to them.
Better late than never.
Dear Ian Hudghton, David Martin, Struan Stevenson, Elspeth Attwooll, John Purvis CBE, Catherine Stihler and Alyn Smith,
I have just found out about the plan to include a "three strikes" directive in the new Telecoms legislation (la quadrature) which is scheduled for voting on Monday, July 7. It is my understanding that this legislation means that an Internet Service Provider will disconnect anyone it determines to be downloading copyrighted material.
This is a highly dangerous piece of legislation. There is no legal safeguard in place: the entire mechanism for the enforcement of this directive stands with the Internet Service Provider. There's no trial, no burden of proof on their part, and no possibility of redress. Under this directive, anyone that the Internet Service Provider is guilty. Removing the due processes of law from the situation is particularly objectionable to me and anyone with an understanding of the role of the courts in this country.
Further, the punishment is unduly harsh. It deprives people of access to communication; access to goods and services; access to educational materials; access to news; and access to information. Being deprived of access affects people's ability to work by denying them the means to conduct business in the modern world. Many people perform some aspects of their duties from home, and in the case of people who are self employed, this directive would give a commercial entity the ability to destroy that person's business. The Government is keen to encourage citizens to make use of online services, including online tax returns and training courses, and has recognised the importance of getting people to use the net. Disconnection from the Internet without charge or trial in this day and age is draconian.
The proposal would punish the innocent along with the guilty. All an ISP can do is identify the internet connection involved (in technical terms, the IP address that it provides to a user). The ISP cannot identify which individual person committed the offence. Were a child to download copyrighted material by accident, they would still be guilty. Likewise, were a third-party to break into a wireless network, the owner of that network would be guilty whether or not he ever knew about the intrusion.
Finally this law requires the ISP to conduct constant surveillance on all internet traffic, both legal and illegal. This surveillance involves intercepting the telecommunications of every British citizen who uses the internet. Nobody should have the power to do that, except for law enforcement personnel who have obtained permission to conduct surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Giving that power to a private company and then insisting that they clandestinely tap into every user's communications goes above and beyond the realms of good sense.
I can appreciate the desire of copyright holders to address the issue of copyright violation; as a writer I feel the loss of income from copyright violation directly. This is not an appropriate way to deal with it. The issue of copyright violation needs to be carefully investigated, thought through, and debated. Commercial companies should not be granted drastic law enforcement powers by three amendments snuck into a package containing over eight hundred amendments.
I urge you to strike down this legislation on Monday.