Digital Economy Act sets UK gov't on the path to ever-more-punitive Internet laws

My latest Guardian column, "Why the Digital Economy Act simply won't work," warns that now that the British state has assumed responsibility for maximizing the profits of entertainment companies, it will have to take ever-more-restrictive measures against its own people:
And because once the state decides that it has a duty to police the internet to maximise the profits of a few entertainment companies (no matter what the public expense), it sets itself on a path of ever-more-restrictive measures. Once disconnection drives downloaders to make use of SSL-based proxies, watch for Big Content to inveigle their friends in parliament to enact laws prohibiting the use of virtual private networks - never mind that these are the best practice of anyone trying to safeguard a corporate or organisational network.

Once the Act drives downloaders to use SSL-encrypted services that are harder to monitor, watch for the entertainment lobby to ask for great swaths of the internet to be blocked by the Great Firewall of Britain that the Act also provides for.

Once you swallow a spider to catch a fly, you're on a course to swallow a bird to catch the spider, a cat to catch the bird, and so on until you swallow a horse - and every toddler knows that happens next.

Why the Digital Economy Act simply won't work


  1. So like TV or radio, not a tool for the mass of individuals, (only for Government or Business “use as tool”), but for the typical individual only a means of entertainment, as well as a means for Gov and Biz to track their eyeballs and wishes and opinions?

    Include me out of this cunning and viscious bait-and-switch…so the internet is NOT for anonymous free debate or exchange of plans and info, but is FOR tracking the anti-gov, anti-biz dissidents, and to help disrupt them and their attempts to use this medium to co-oordinate and activize?
    For this is the true prize for governmental/big business internet monitoring.
    The control of the noosphere…
    DARPA knew what they were about: as did those far-sighted politicians who decided to criminalize the mere possession of certain types of information (cough – child porn – cough) in the late 1980s, in order to – ten years later – “make it reasonable” that police and Governments engage in widespread monitoring of all citizen-to-citizen communications on the Internet.

  2. maximise the profits of a few [insert type here] companies (no matter what the public expense)

    Pretty much explains our recent governments actions for the past few decades in entirety :(

  3. Spot on. The old lady analogy is virtually flawless.

    So what happens when free-minded people are completely stripped of access to communication & info technologies? Either we go off the grid willingly or are forced off; we become either Amish spin-offs or go Rebel Alliance.

    What nobody seems to register is that neither scenario is palatable for corporate interests, since both take away our capacity to be good little consumers.

    And when every means of peaceful resistance is taken away, then what? Again the choice I see is pretty bifurcatious (although I’m not sure I’ve spelled that correctly).

    1. I’m not sure you’ve entirely phrased it correctly either.
      Something can be bifurcated, or you can bifurcate something. So I guess in a way most stuff could be construed as bifurcatious, or bifurcatable perhaps.

      Anyhow, I believe the corporate interests are confident enough that we’ll all end up as happy consumers if we’re kept dazzled and entertained by shiny new things. I hope they prove to be wrong.

      They used to call us citizens. Now they call us consumers.

  4. and so on until you swallow a horse – and every toddler knows that happens next.

    They move to France?

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