EU to EULA if UK is OK

It is a kind of digital enclosure, an attempt to impose on the Internet the same kind of removal of common rights that the British ruling classes imposed on the land from the Seventeenth Century onwards…

I have just completed an article on the UK as a ‘bad example’ to the rest of Europe, and lo and behold another piece of regressive, repressive idiocy by the British government appears. It seems that the UK is trying to amend the proposed EU-wide Telecommunications package to destroy the principle of net neutrality. Their proposals will “remove the principle of users’ rights to access and distribute Internet content and services”, and replace it with “a ‘principle’  that users can be told not only the conditions for access, but also the conditions for the use of applications and services.”

In other words, they want to make the entire Internet work by End-User Licensing Agreements (EULAs) rather than the general principle of end-to-end connectivity. It is a kind of digital enclosure, an attempt to impose on the Internet the same kind of removal of common rights that the British ruling classes imposed on the land from the Seventeenth Century onwards. There is nothing about the Internet Age about this, indeed it is pre-industrial – it is pure justification of the same powerful economic interests that the British state has always represented. And, as the original report points out, this is particularly bitter because both the British (OFCOM-originated) amendments and their duplicate Czech mini-me amendments have a lot of their substantive justitifications cut’n’pasted wholesale from Wikipedia!

Like the thieves who stole our land, they are utterly shameless.

(I think I originally saw this in BoingBoing, and sorry for not linking it, but it keeps crashing my little computer right now…)

Digital Britain to be just like Digital Brazil?

There has been a serious global push for several years now by corporate content creators to hobble the Internet, and turn it into something more like television.

Time to catch up on a story that I missed this week. Boingboing reported the release of the UK government’s consultation document on Digital Britain. I had a eerie feeling of deja vu because the proposals are just like parts of Senator Azeredo’s bill that is halfway through the legislative process here in Brazil. Effectively it regards the Internet as some kind of untamed zone which must be brought under state control through a Rights Agency and ISPs acting increasingly as surveillance agents over the activities of their users, in this case particularly with regard to file-sharing.

The similarity is not surprising. There has been a serious global push for several years now by corporate content creators to hobble the Internet, and turn it into something more like television. The fact that the Digital Britain plan is filed under ‘broadcasting’ on the government’s website says quite a lot about the lack of tech savvy of state regulators in this area. What governments, in listening only to the corporate argument, don’t appear to realise is that we are actually collectively and autonomously coming up with better ways of ‘regulation’ of content through initiatives like Creative Commons and so on.

As in Brazil, where a serious netizen counter-plan is now emerging, with parliamentary support, there needs to be some serious organisation in Britain to present the alternatives to destroying the Internet and all is messy, unruly creativity. The Open Rights Group are trying to do this – let’s get behind them and make this more than just a few tech-savvy usual suspects.