Enough! We must write to our MPs and Senators and MEPs: Give us back our freedom
The threat to our society comes more from our own governments than from terrorists. Terrorism is scary – but just look at the facts. More people die crossing the road every day than from ‘terrorists’; but there is no attempt to stop us crossing the road. There are some light regulations and lots of advice, but no heavy-handed restrictions or surveillance. So why the internet?
In the name of terrorism and other scary things like copyright our democratic governments are beginning to act like fascist dictatorships – and I don’t think that is an extreme description. Consider this last month. In New Zealand two helicopters landed on a private lawn. Armed ‘policemen’, instructed by the FBI, invaded the property and broke into a panic room in which sheltered the suspect and his family – including his pregnant wife. The crime? Suspected copyright infringements.
Last week the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) took down rnbxclusive, a music sharing website, and posted a laughably histrionic warning (which Boing Boing points out is more like a phisher’s message than an LEA notice). Again, the crime is copyright. A bright red message warns downloaders that they are breaching criminal law and subject to 10 years in prison. It talks about fraud and delivers the music industry’s propaganda.
Looking at this in detail, I understand that ‘downloading’ is a civil offence, not a criminal offence. That means that downloaders are being considered as part of the conspiracy to defraud, which would be a criminal offence. But as a highly respected UK lawyer told me, “I think that the claim that a downloader is, as such, entering into a conspiracy with a site operator is far-fetched to the point of approaching absurdity.”
And just yesterday it emerged that UK ISPs are going to be forced to retain details of who we email and who emails us and where we go on the internet for every one of us for at least a year for MI5 inspection. In short, the government has blanket surveillance on all of us without requiring any judicial oversight – in the name of fighting terrorism.
Quite simply, when governments behave like this, what are they trying to defend? It is no longer a society or culture or belief system that is worth any pride. Governments are destroying our society far faster and more effectively than terrorism ever will.