Take action and protect your online rights

Feb 13, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Take action and protect your online rights

You may have read or heard that on January 18, 2012 an estimated 7,000 websites from around the world (including this one) blacked out their websites in an effort to raise awareness about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively. As discussed in the Wikipedia article Stop Online Piracy Act “Opponents state the proposed legislation threatens free speech and innovation, and enables law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage.” As a result of the overwhelming response, both the U.S. House and Senate decided to “postpone” drafting of the bills.
 
SOPA and PIPA are just the latest examples of legislation that governments around the world have introduced or are working on in an attempt to stop the admitted problem of pirating. Unfortunately, most of this legislation goes too far and will seriously reduce a free and open Internet. The $64,000 question is why? Unfortunately, it appears that certain businesses and organizations (primarily from the entertainment industry) seem to wield a huge amount of power with governments around the world. Rather than change their business models they find it “easier” to convince governments to change their legislation. Would you like another example? Have a look at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that was negotiated in secrecy “for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement”. Like SOPA and PIPA, people are thankfully expressing their dislike with this agreement. (See Tens of Thousands Protest ACTA).
 
Canada, unfortunately is no different. The current Canadian Government appears determined to trample on the rights of its citizens in an effort to satisfy the entertainment industry and the U.S. government. How is the Canadian Government putting the entertainment business ahead of its citizens? Bill C-11, which is currently in committee, appears as an honest attempt to create some balance between copyrights and the rights of the Canadian citizen. Unfortunately, the Government has made a decision that digital locks will “trump” all rights and there will be no exemptions. So consumers cannot break any digital lock if they want to back up their DVDs, eBooks, software and so forth. You will also not be able to copy the material to other devices that you own unless the provider allows you to do so, even if it is just for your own personal use. Digital locks and Bill C-11 is discussed in a great article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
 
One also has to really wonder about the Canadian Government’s desire to truly debate these bills when you have Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stating “Stand with us or with the child pornographers”. This law is not even introduced and the Government is already using unacceptable methods to convince people that they should be supporting the bill. If the law is so necessary, shouldn’t the government be trying to explain it and educate its citizens rather than telling them that they will stand with child pornographers if they question the law? Unfortunately, I believe that the Government’s actions and the upcoming introduction of the Access to Information Act are really the first steps down a very dangerous slippery slope. I strongly urge you to read the following two articles on this topic:

 
My hope is that I have raised your awareness in relation to rights that you will be losing if we do not stand up and be heard. So please learn more about what the Canadian Government is trying to take away from you, write to your Member of Parliament and tell your MP to stand up for Canadians and finally, please sign the openmedia.ca’s No Internet Lockdown Petition [EDIT – Link no longer working…was www.openmedia.ca/lockdown].

If you would like to read more about this topic, I highly recommend the following:

 
All the best,
Richard

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