A partnership between the RIAA, MPAA and major ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast and Hollywood and Big Music, could allow your ISP to police your internet usage once a final agreement is reached. The partnership would see these ISPs spying on your activity to monitor for sharing copyrighted movies or music files from your computer.
Traditionally, your ISP attempts to protect you and your data by utilizing software and hardware to keep the connections between your computer and their servers secured. The irony of course is that with the new graduated response plan dubbed the “Center for Copyright Information” (http://copyrightinformation.org/) would make the ISPs involved responsible for policing and enforcing the violations and would see offending users warned, restricted and eventually cut off from the Internet for successive infringements.
Until now, media companies have had to try and scour the internet in an attempt to find and locate violators, but if the agreement goes through, the studios will have associated ISPs sniff packets of incoming data to and from their customers computers. The process of the escalation of infringements is structured as follows:
- Rights holders track infringing Internet users and send notices to ISPs.
- ISPs used this data to send warnings, called “Copyright Alerts”, to subscribers.
- If subscribers fail to improve their behavior, further warnings will be issued.
ISPs will be given some discretion as to the variety of sanctions, but would range from throttling back connection speeds to limited browsing or termination of the account.
The agreements between the MPAA, RIAA and ISPs in the United States will be completely voluntary. The ISPs will insist that they are completely within their rights to amend their Terms of Service to accommodate such an agreement and will almost certainly do so quickly.
&Voluntary cooperative solutions are a priority focus and we believe that, in combination with law enforcement action, voluntary actions by the private sector have the potential to dramatically reduce online infringement and change the enforcement paradigm,& said U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.
“We will continue to push forward to encourage voluntary cooperative actions on multiple fronts. Our ultimate goal is to reduce infringement online so we will continue to assess our approach to ensure that it is as effective as possible.&
Not only does this new agreement rekindle the online privacy and piracy debates, but it also raises some equally disturbing problems:
- Sharing an internet connection (be it private, business, or public) becomes a liability to the owner, who becomes responsible for an individual’s activities on a network or shared connection.
- Expectations of privacy are lost. Companies that deal in vitally sensitive information are not only at risk of someone seeing sensitive information but are now become a liability if the information goes public.
- And the most obvious Big Brother paradigm: If ISPs are required to police you; who will police them?
In the light of such measures being introduced and other perceived infringements on Internet freedoms, a campaign to establish a Digital Bill of Rights & Freedoms from Active Politic.com has been gaining momentum. It hopes to establish an Internet consisting of:
- The right to a free and uncensored Internet.
- The right to an open, unobstructed Internet.
- The right to equality on the Internet.
- The right to gather and participate in online activities.
- The right to create and collaborate on the Internet.
- The right to freely share their ideas.
- The right to access the Internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are.
- The right to freely associate on the Internet.
- The right to privacy on the Internet.
- The right to benefit from what they create.
The Internet and the sharing of information (public or private) is still in its adolescence and will require much more deliberation and ratification of laws before we witness an Internet where media companies feel protected from piracy and users are guaranteed to have the freedom to share information without the fear of reprisal.