Friday, September 24, 2010

Guest column: Perspective

By Rich d'Rich

Looking at my Twitter feed and various websites, there has been much complaint about France implementing "three strikes" policies against Internet filesharing.

For those not following this debate, the French government, in an attempt to prevent minor copyright violations, is mandating that ISPs will be required to send warning letters to those sharing copyright files, and, should these warnings be ignored, to disconnect them if required by a judge.

In other news, the same government is deporting Roma travellers, including those who are EU citizens and have lived in France for many years. This is something that hasn't happened in Europe for over sixty years, and is a flagrant violation of the EU constitution and the ECHR. Indeed, preventing this kind of thing is a core reason why the ECHR was adopted and the EU created in the 1950's. Sadly, although the deportations are prima facie illegal and will probably be denounced by the courts, the slow speed of international justice means that this won't happen for several years, by which time many families will have been torn apart and people driven from their homes.

From where I'm sitting the outrage against putative Internet bans vastly exceeds that against Roma deportation. While I don't personally support punitive copyright enforcement measures against individuals, this seems a tad disproportionate. Surely throwing somebody out of a country on racial grounds is way worse than banning them from downloading Avatar? Much as technotopians think otherwise, you can't live on the Internet.