Just a PUR pack of BS !

Coincidentally, as the report on Internet policy by Frank La Rue is just out, expressing “deep concerns” about “graduated response” and disconnecting users from the Internet (explicitly referring to France HADOPI and UK Digital Economy Act 2010), France is launching another communication campaign with a set of Pathetic clips going live this month and la new Label called “PUR” standing for “Promotion des Usages Responsables” (promotion of responsible uses).

I just don’t get it! Not only has the campaign cost over 3 M € for communicating on a law that is increasingly being recognized as going against a fundamental human right, but much worse : this is a deceptive message playing on negativity instead of the initially planed positive communication as pointed out by Numerama.

Several fun remixed deviated PUR labels have already appeared, check them out on Google Images among the original ones. Some are really creative!

There is urgency in addressing these global issues in a responsible and sustainable way.

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 ?

ISP Internet Filtering is Illegal : EU Court of Justice Opinion

Today, Advocate General’s Opinion in the case opposing Scarlet Extended to Société belge des auteurs compositeurs et éditeurs (Sabam) sounded like freedom and (public domain) music to my ears.

“According to Advocate General Cruz Villalón, a measure ordering an internet service provider to install a system for filtering and blocking electronic communications in order to protect intellectual property rights in principle infringes fundamental rights”.

If the verdict is confirmed, this is fantastic news and a step forward in the fight to preserve privacy and freedom of information.
It is also a major signal to the entertainment industry and their lobbies that they cannot carry on trying to force into law their obsolete business models. Maybe an opportunity for them to finally consider re-thinking a few things with respect to their industry and copyright. ISP will no longer be threatened and punished for refusing to spy on their customers. Let’s see how this evolves and the reactions it will trigger.

France to generate exclusion, discrimination and inequality with its “Music Card”

France has just released its order behind the “music card” as the public policy to accompany the so called “legal offering measures” for its three strikes approach to copyright infringement (HADOPI).

In a nutshell, I was deeply shocked by its implementation details. Not that I actually expected much out of it (Hey, it’s HADOPI related !), but sometimes you think / hope things can’t fail 100% of the time. Well, I hate to say but it’s actually much much worse than I expected (i.e., really ugly)

Basically I have three major point :

  1. Discrimination : The card is reserved for “youngsters” aged 12 to 25. Read : if you’re below 12 you should go ahead and figure out why you don’t belong to that category and consequently look for alternative options in the darknet or eventually consider filing a complaint for abusive age discrimination (something their parents should do given their young age). Likewise, up to 25 you should feel you belong to one of four stigmatized categories of youngsters as advertised in their ridiculous communication campaign videos : Rap / Electro / Rock and a Fashion junkie. Left me speechless!
  2. Inequality : The number of cards is maxed out at 1 M units per year! France has the largest population in Europe (65 M people) out of which (sorry I don’t have the breakdown for the age category 12-25 at hand, but…) I can reasonably assume there are much more than 1 M “youngsters” concerned, and by far. Moreover apparently this will be on a first come first served basis without actual age checking (self declaration based on honor).
  3. Exclusion : at a time when we’re talking about eInclusion and how to prevent exclusion, this initiative will only serve a handful of people excluding all the others. This is particularly corrosive considering it is instrumented by governments through public policies that cost actual hard worked tax payer dollars. But they are only buying themselves some good conscience, trying to legitimate their HADOPI law.

At the end of the day, there goes 50 M€ of public money down the drain through a public policy generating potential discrimination, exclusion and inequality. What a mess ! Adding up the public money spend through the years with DADVSI, HADOPI and this latest joke / waste of public policy, I just cannot refrain thinking it would have been much better spent educating our kids at school on these issue and others related to living in the Digital Age ! This has become as important as learning to read, write and count.

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.