From September i the Government will be trying to curtail our internet freedoms on behalf of money-grabbing corporate interests.
On April 15, deliberately abusing the urgency provisions that were in place to speed up Christchurch's earthquake recovery program, the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 was passed.
This act had nothing to do with the Christchurch earthquake but everything to do with avoiding public scrutiny of a bill that tramples over freedom of access to the Internet.
The bill is ostensibly about preventing people from downloading copyright material, whether it be books, music, games, films or TV shows. If you are a regular user of file sharing sites, 'Big Brother' may come after you.
Owners of copyright material can record the IP address that has downloaded copyright material and go after them. The service provider, under the new law, is required to send its customer a notice that they - or someone at that IP address - has been downloading pop music or old episodes of Star Trek.
As the New Zealand Internet Freedom collective says: 'The bill is based on the system of ‘guilty till proven innocent’. This means that someone uses your IP, your computer, your home internet (flatmates) or hacks your internet (which can be done in about 10 minutes) then it is up to you to prove that you are innocent. How will you do that? ‘Wasn’t me’ defence won’t hold up unfortunately.'
The punishments can be severe . You will lose your internet connection for 6 months. Also, you will be fined up to $15,000 - depending on whether the copyright owner wants to play hardball or not.
As the BoingBoing website observed about this law earlier this year: 'When it comes into effect, it means that the livelihoods, civic engagement, education, social mobility, political engagement, and other online activities will be subject to suspension without trial or evidence for anyone accused of copyright infringement.'
It's clear that the US lobbyists pressured the New Zealand government to introduce this authoritarian law.
Cables released by Wiklileaks have revealed the US attack dogs actively lobbied several cabinet members while New Zealand was working through its copyright reform in 2008.
This is the same United States whose Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in 2010:
'We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic.'
But the Obama administration, acting on behalf of corporate interests, wants us to think the world economy will collapse if we don't stop teenagers downloading music and games on to their computers.
According to Vice President Joe Biden: 'Piracy hurts, it hurts our economy.'
However a US Government Accountability Office study released to U.S. Congress in April last year, concluded that there is virtually no evidence for the claimed million dollar losses by the entertainment industry. That study suggested that piracy could even benefit the American economy.
It seems though that New Zealand politicians have swallowed the shonky corporate arguments - hook, line and sinker.
This clumsy law won't work because there are many ways around it. The genie is out of the bottle but our politicians, many who appear to be 'internet illiterate' don't seem to comprehend this. But the Internet Freedom Collective fears that this is the first stage in a process to 'impose individual monitored internet accounts for every man, woman and child.'
This unworkable and undemocratic legislation comes in to force on September 1.