Better Ugly Speech than Enforced Silence

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Ahh ... so many chewy issues to blog about, and so little time to write them all down!

This one has caught my attention in the past few days. In an effort to put a halt to filesharing, ISPs in the UK have agreed to participate in a government initiative (gotta love those!). Apparently, this involves sending nasty letters to "suspected music pirates". Which begs the question - what constitutes a pirate? Not to mention the other question - what are they threatening them with? I can't help but think that it's more a symbolic gesture than anything else. For starters, it's hardly in the ISPs best interest to cut off users who - in their capacity as "music pirates" - spend a lot of time online downloading things, all of which the ISP can presumably charge lots of hard-earned for. In my mind, this is the same old argument that we've been debating since the internet was made available to the masses. To censor or not to censor?

There is never a time when censorship - particularly of the variety done by governments - is going to be acceptable. I'm all for appropriate content in the appropriate places, but when a government (or ISP, or any other organisation) is deciding what is 'decent' and what is 'acceptable', where will the forums be? It used to be that commons existed in every town - as time has worn on, the commons have changed, and in today's connected society, the internet can be viewed as one great, global commons. Sure, there's bits of that I really don't want to have anything to do with, but that comes down to choice, and freedom. But, in the immortal words of St Jude and the Internet 21: better ugly speech than enforced silence.

2 comments:

The Banana said...

Music pirates are actually a bad thing for ISPs, or at least those who structure their prices the way the ISP I work for does.
An ISP sells x amount of data quota to a customer per month. The best customers are those who pay for that amount of data, and then use only a portion of it. Customers who buy big quotas tend to use them, and the realities of bandwidth pricing are that those customers cost an ISP almost as much as the ISP makes from them - they're low-profit customers.
From an ISP perspective, these government initiatives are a pain because they are written by legislators who know SFA about the technical requirements, and if they are even technically possible, they are often administratively cumbersome and offer no return for the ISP on the additional resources required to implement the lovely reforms.

Loquacity said...

Hi Bananaman,

Thanks for the comment. I stand corrected. As you say, many (alleged) pirates would be using close to or all their data allocation, and not only that but chew bandwidth into the bargain. The only time I can see this being profitable for the ISP is actually in terms of excess download charges. But then, presumably, anyone who was charged excess download charges more than once or twice would up the plan, thereby solving the problem and drying up the revenue stream. Thanks for pointing this out.

And yes, I agree with you about the government legislation - much of the legislation appears to be along the lines of 'ban all porn sites', or 'log all email' and it's enacted by people who really have no clue how that might be done. Oddly enough, by the time someone with the appropriate amount of technical aptitude sees this, it's too late to do anything other than quietly ignore the directive, and hope that it gets changed in due course.

L

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