ACTA soon to join graveyard of attempts to cut online liberties

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Now that EC digital chief Neelie Kroes has acknowledged ACTA is set to fail and join the growing worldwide graveyard of deceptive attempts to lockdown the Internet, maybe we can move on and start co-designing a truly user centered framework for our global digital future. While this sounds great, my only concern is who (or which entity) has the legitimacy to start this conversation ? I’m afraid none of the existing bodies are “free” enough to tackle such a global wicked problem. Particularly if it involves using remedies and solutions from the past.
We are living a historic time, the answers we will provide are likely to shape the future of our society for generations. Let’s not miss this unique opportunity to build upon what the Internet and the Web have achieved, to design the first Global Digital Policy Framework. Internet is a county that has all the flavors of a country except physical territory. We are all citizens of the Internet, let’s unite and follow this metaphor in this global co-design challenge.

(May 8, 2012 article from The Guardian )

Latest News : May 9, 20012,  Switzerland to postpone signature of ACTA in light of general controversy and protests.

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Internet Access : Finally A Fundamental Human Right according to UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue

Borrowing from the phrase of Armstrong: That’s one small step for the UN, one giant leap for the Internet!

Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression released his report (22 pages well worth reading) submitted to the 17th session of the Human Rights Council on the “key trends and challenges to the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet“.

His conclusions and recommendations are clear and call for no further argument. In a nutshell : Internet Access is a fundamental human right. Now maybe we can move on with the real discussions and issues on how to creatively address some of these global problems currently hampered by ridiculous territorially bound legislations that have been hijacked by lobbies and industry led pressure groups.

So long HADOPI, ACTA, Protect IP Act, etc. Long live the Internet ! and let’s get to work, we’ve got a responsible digital society to build… Time for Responsibility 2.0 : towards A new World Order ?

No intimidation and bounty hunter justice in Switzerland : IP address is personal data

Swiss Federal Supreme Court recently (Sept. 8, 2010) ruled against Logistep AG recognizing IP addresses as personal data, therefore subject to the Data Protection Act.
This much awaited and internationally watched decision is a clear signal that companies or industry groups cannot mandate private companies to substitute themselves to justice by intimidating or acting as bounty hunters in our society.
The second important outcome of this decision is the recognition of IP addresses as being personal information falling under the Data Protection Act. This is a step forward in the protection of privacy and personal information increasingly being discussed around the world.
This however should definitely not be interpreted as Switzerland being a piracy safe haven. Nor should it be considered to mean that pirating content is legal. It only recognizes this fundamental right to privacy in the digital realm and probably that copyright needs a major rethinking on a global scale (not in the traditional territorially based approaches (e.g., HADOPI in France), nor as highly controversial international treaties (e.g., ACTA).

At the end of the day and looking at the reactions of Logistep AG and other industry actors, it is sad to see that we’re still stuck in this old debate of an industry refusing to understand the world has changed, and consequently their business, looking at the issue as an opportunity rather than a threat. Dematerialized services are here to stay. We need to embrace this with the appropriate mindset allowing to accommodate all stakeholders. We have reached the limits of traditional legal approaches to such global issues. Join the conversation…

Global Cacophony reigns over Three-Strikes Graduated Response

One step forward, two steps back. That’s the curent situation leading to a global cacophony on the Three-strikes issue.

Under the pressure of (among others) an EU parliament resolution (633 favorable votes, 13 against and 16 abstensions) to open the secret negotiations on the ACTA treaty, the text of a public draft was released April 21, 2010. Unfortunately the document doesn’t reflect individual countries positions (refering to square bracketed options in the texte). Interestingly, the April 16 press release following the Wellington 8th round ACTA negotiations explicitely mentions no governement will mandate a “gaduated response” or “three-strikes”:

” […] While the participants recognise the importance of responding effectively to the challenge of Internet piracy, they confirmed that no participant is proposing to require governments to mandate a ‘graduated response’ or ‘three strikes’ approach to copyright infringement on the Internet. […] ”

While this is good news in one sense, I cannot refrain from juxtaposing it to the growing body of countries enacting laws and ruling exactly in the opposit direction. In addition to France (HADOPI) we now have Great Britain who has rushed its Digital Economy Bill receiving royal assent (podcast here). Recently, Ireland has ruled in favor of such approaches dismissing concerns of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

My point here is simple: this whole issue is going nowhere! Given the amount of controversy and the conflicting approaches and interests, it should be a clear sign that the legal Three-strikes approach is doomed no matter how it’s put. Internet access is globally recognized as a public good and as such its access is becoming a fundamental right. Whatever laws are or might be enacted in this direction are bound to be technically innapplicable. Last but not least, such laws being essentially territorial will innevitably lead to offshoring services in countries not having similar provisions or simply put in the cloud providing the services through encrypted channels.

So how do we move forward in a sustainable way ? Education to have people (kids and adults alike) understand that digital doesn’t necessarly mean free. If something has value for someone it’s probably because it’s creator is trying to make a living out of it and therefore deserves some form of compensation or credit. New business models making piracy not worth the effort over legit alternatives. And a bit of technology to get rid of the deceptive user experience thus reinstating the user in his role and rights. By all means : Deceptive laws won’t do the job! We need to pull ourselves together and have a real public debat about this, including in the loop espeially the Users AND public policies as a guiding framework for the greater good.