Saturday, 5 May 2012

“What grinds my gears” II



This weeks post (a little late and jumping on the bandagon) is about SOPA, ACTA and all the other anti pirate, anti censorship, anti freedom acts thats going on… and Pipa.
First a little briefing on whats going on as I found it confusing to begin with, the video above does this nicely…
Ok, all briefed?
Basically the danger in the US is Pipa, the Protect IP address act, which is actually just a ‘re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA),  which failed to pass in 2010.’ (BBCNEWS, 05/2011)[1].
To see the actual US bill click here. The Act (and also SOPA) attempt to propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted data without permission more than ten times in six months should face up to 5 years in jail. This comes from a country where for example, in Arizona Negligent Homicide (the killing of a person through negligence) gets 3.75 years for a first offence!!!! or Virginia where a second degree murder if you’re lucky can only get you 5 years!. Thats the same as SOPA and Pipa propose for their bill. (Wikipedia)[2].
The internet in the US would effectively become more like that of China and Iran; if Pipa would pass, SOPA guards against this in places, instead implicating the copyright holders. However, some of this has already begun happening such as the publicised shutting down of Megaupload and all it’s affliates on 19 January 2012.
Sites such as Wikipedia, Facebook and Google are against this, and Wikipedia even took a ‘blackout’ day to show protest against these acts.
Controversially, the UK (and EU) has, just five days ago, signed up to ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, while SOPA and Pipa are on hold. ACTA as the name states should be dealing with counterfeit goods such as medicines etc, however it’s broader scope of course covers data and information. It famously came to everyone’s attention after Polish activists disarmed and shut down Poland’s government in reaction to Warsaw’s plans in fear it would lead to censorship.
It has mostly been negogiated in secret with many countries signing up to it, and it has been negotiated as a ‘Trade Agreement’. There is however a contentious article- 23, that the European commision was not allowed to negotiate over. It had to go to the EU for this as it included criminal sanction, unusual for a trade agreement?? This were decided behind closed doors by the states representatives.
The European Commision support ACTA, however it appears four members of the EU Parliament oppose it, they are: Stavros Lambrinidis (Greek, Socialist), Zuzana Roithova (Czech, EPP) , Alexander Alvaro (Germany, Liberal)  and Francoise Castex (France, Socialist)-who quit shortly after. Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia and a few others still have not yet signed up.
One harsh section that as been reomoved from ACTA was to even cut off offenders from web use.
Yet the act itself is still ridiculous, as are SOPA and Pipa. They claim not to censor, yet there have been wikipedia blackouts, riots in Poland, the US wanting to extradite the New Zealander responsible for Megaupload, and planned further attacks by the hackers ‘Anonymous’. The public can’t be wrong, surely?
So basically this all grinds my gears…

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_punishments_for_murder_in_the_United_States#Alabama

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