Friday, February 17, 2012

Balance of Power

Powerful new tech always creates ethical and legal challenges - the emergence of nuclear power being a good example. The worldwide web in its broadband configuration combined with the shift to digital is probably even more significant and offers great freedom to the users but on the other hand an unbelievable level of power to the State to monitor and control its citizens. See George Orwell's 1984.

One reason the debate around control of IP Piracy is so fierce is possibly that there is a lurking suspicion (particularly among the unfortunately tagged "freetards") that the State will use this as a back door excuse to ramp up even further the monitoring of its citizens for other purposes - defence of the realm, protection of duckhouses, collecting parking tickets and other sums the State feel are due. The explosion of CCTV surveillance and use of RIPA powers in the UK by public authorities (at least 500,000 examples) without judicial sign off add weight to this argument. See Tom Bingham's The Rule of Law.

IP rights must be protected but the process needs to be fair, transparent and under the control of the legal system not the State. All our data shows that there is no need to "go after" ordinary people in order to manage IP Piracy effectively.

A lot of sting could be removed from the discussions if there was more clarity around Article 8 (the right to a private and family life) providing some reassurance that just because the banks blew up the economy suddenly any public official can listen to your phone calls, look at your emails and open your post.

I am miles away from being a bleeding heart liberal but the alarm bells do start ringing when Governments start to undermine human rights arguments on the basis of economic good (see Adolf Hitler) and to mislead / PR the public on human rights issues - evidence obtained under torture cannot be used even when from a suspected terrorist.

Nick Clegg has pushed forward the Protection of Freedoms Bill but it still remains unclear where the lines are drawn.

Essentially a pre-requisite to resolving the legal structure around IP Piracy is to first clarify the right to privacy under Article 8.