Mandelson’s three strikes ban is a breach of everyone’s rights

Lord Peter Mandelson, the British Business Secretary has this week reiterated his plans to use his three strikes and your out policy to cut illegal file sharing pirates off the Internet in an effort to stop piracy.

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Of course the announcement comes in the same week that the British Phonographic Industry, who support the legislation, revealed that 2009 has already, with two months remaining, seen the record for all-time single sales broken. Information that heavily contradicts the damage that file sharing cannibalises music sales and is causing job losses in a recession hit market.

Of course the main problem with Mandelson’s plan is that not only does it contradict his own Prime Minister’s belief that the internet is as vital as gas and water, but it breaks the very principles that this country is supposed to have on your privacy and your rights.

The right to a fair trial

Peter Mandelson’s plan is that the music industry and Internet Service Providers will police your internet use, and will send you warnings before punishing you for your sharing of illegal files. Yes, thats right, if Peter Mandelson’s plan comes to fruition, the music industry will be the judge, the jury and the executioner. At no point would they be required to go to court, with the evidence to prove that what they are saying about you is true. They’ll just be able to cut you off the net without any second thought.

The right to privacy

The plan is to use your IP address, which can easily be faked, to find you, and then accuse you of Internet piracy. Of course, not only could the internet address be faked, but the person who is accused of illegal downloading and sharing might not even be the person downloading. It could be a child in the family. It could be someone sat outside in a car that has hacked your Wi-Fi connection to download a file on their tiny netbook machine. That won’t matter however, because your name will be connected to that IP address, and you’ll be paying the bill and that makes you guilty of a crime that you never committed, according to the BPI.

If they don’t do it via the IP address, the only other way to do find out what you are downloading is a technique called Deep packet inspection. That basically means, every packet of data that is sent on your internet connection (that isn’t encrypted) can be inspected and checked for its contents. Yes, the Government will be legally allowing private industry to snoop on your every move on the Internet, be it legal or not. Of course, the statement in brackets is also key.


As soon as you encrypt your data, there is absolutely nothing that deep packet inspection can do. Each packets encryption would have to be individually decrypted to identify its contents. The music industry already spends more money on fighting piracy than it loses through it. Unless the music industry decides to pay for more computing power than is currently available in the world to decrypt everything in real time, then all it takes is encryption of the file shared data, and the plan is completely unworkable.

Of course this is the last route that the industry want, and in particular the security services don’t want. File sharing isn’t new, it happened in the 80’s through home taping, and what happened there? The industry attacked it, and oh yes, the industry is still here. Lets also not forget that the Government aren’t the best at taking the advice of the people it employs in order to do research for it.

Of course file sharing also drove innovation and gave us services that we now take for granted. The music industry laughed at the idea of sales of music online 10 years ago, and Napster changed that.

Without file sharing the music industry would have never taken electronic sales of music on board. There would be no iTunes, no Spotify, no Hulu, no BBC iPlayer. There would be no Guitar Hero and Rock Band with their downloadable music files.

If Peter Mandelson gets his way. You have no privacy anymore. The internet is no longer a place you can browse without your own government knowing what you are doing.

All of a sudden, it makes China look positively free, doesn’t it?


About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

2 Responses to Mandelson’s three strikes ban is a breach of everyone’s rights

  1. patchyatbest says:

    Ello! Thought I’d follow your link and have a look.

    This music sharing stuff’s insane, let alone the idea that if they track exactly what you download (which they’d have to to justify the ban) they’re basically taking away browsing freedom and therefore privacy. Also heard that they can’t tell whether you’re watching something on iPlayer or downloading an album? pfft.

  2. tarn says:

    Not to mention that Mandelson wants to do all this snooping, and punish people, for something that isn’t even illegal!
    Copyright infringement is a civil, not a criminal offence. That makes it ‘unlawful’, not ‘illegal’. The difference may not sound like much, but I bet it’s precisely why the music business wants to bypass taking filesharers to court – because they could easily be challenged. I believe at least one ISP plans to do just that, if pushed.

    Also, the figures the music business has put out to justify their attack on filesharers are deeply suspect. See Ben Goldacre’s article on the subject at The Guardian online:

    I call shenanigans!

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