Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NZ government agrees disconnection violates international law

Back in April, the New Zealand government abused urgency to ram through a "three strikes" guilt by accusation IP regime which would see people disconnected from the internet for repeat violations. The law was indirectly criticised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression, who declared that such regimes were grossly disproportionate and a violation of international law. And now, the New Zealand government has endorsed the Special Rapporteur's report:

Michael Geist notes that on Friday, Sweden made remarks at the UN Human Rights Council that endorsed many of the report's findings, including the criticism of "three strikes" rules. The statement was signed by 40 other nations, including the United States and Canada. The United Kingdom and France, two nations that have enacted "three strikes" regimes, did not sign the statement.

"All users should have greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services," the statement said, adding that "cutting off users from access to the Internet is generally not a proportionate sanction." It also called network neutrality and Internet openness "important objectives."

Interestingly, the report is signed by New Zealand, which enacted legislation in April that sets up a special Copyright Tribunal for expediting file-sharing cases. The penalties available to the New Zealand government include Internet disconnections of up to six months.

So, does this mean that the government has realised it is wrong on disconnection? if so, it should introduce a repeal bill immediately. Alternatively, they could just be hypocritically trying to have it both ways, criticising these laws while still keeping them on the books here. But they'd never do that, would they?