Governments and media titans want to have the internet operated in
their interests, which not only attacks our privacy, but our right to
information, restricting the ability to work and educate ourselves, Jim
Killock of the Open Rights group told RT.
“They want to have it operated in their interests rather than
the interests of individuals. And that means attacks not privacy…
that attacks our right to information. It does mean a lot of
people are putting a lot of pressure on some very fundamental and
important rights” he said.
In an attempt to clamp down on illegal downloading, the British
Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the British Video Association
have requested BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk to submit
information on piracy. Those violating data
protection laws could be subject to prosecution.
RT: These ISPs policing the Internet, basically they
will be doing it on behalf of huge industry titans in the music
and film business. Will they be willing to do that? Is that
legal? Should they be the ones to do that?
Jim Killock: The kind of things you’ve outlined I think
would be very illegal. I think they will be extremely dodgy doing
those kind of things. That’s why the legislation was proposed.
Because if you start interfering in somebody’s communications,
you are restricting their ability to work, to educate themselves,
get a job… There are a lot of consequences. You can’t just simply
start blocking sites or restricting somebody’s internet just
because they’ve been entered on a database. Similarly if you are
putting information onto a database then you have got privacy
concerns, there are laws about data protection. That again is why
legislation was proposed, because at least then there is a legal
framework and it is clear who is responsible. The BPI, they could
be doing some of this themselves. There are legal powers for them
to seek the details of people they believe are infringing their
copyright, to get that information through the courts, and to
take individuals to courts if they’ve got the evidence.
RT: And do you agree that they would be within they
rights to do that? They are making films and music to make money
out of them.
JK: People do have legal rights, copyright is a legal
right, and the BPI could take people to court and that would be
reasonable. At least then you would know what the evidence was
and somebody could say ‘well look I’m innocent’, ‘I didn’t do
that, it’s not me.’ And you could see some logical
conclusion, and that it’s transparent.
RT: This would mean that people would have no legal
JK: It could easily mean that. I think that’s why it is
very dangerous. There is a big difference between what a court
might do and private policing of the internet. I think we will be
seeing a lot of pressure for that and it is very wrong.
RT: There are big concerns already about the
government’s digital policies in general. We have heard
complaints about surveillance. Attempts to censor what goes on
the internet in general. Is that another thing in that trend?
JK: I think internet has suddenly become interesting to
everybody – the secret services, governments, big industries –
they all want a cut of the information. They want to have it
operated in their interests rather than the interests of
individuals. And that means attacks on our privacy, and attacks
on our right to information. It does mean a lot of people are
putting a lot of pressure on some very fundamental and important
RT: What’s the point of this anyway? What if people
will find another way of hiding themselves?
JK: There is a rub. With internet surveillance, with the
sort of thing that the NSA and the British Secret Services have
been doing, we know that really hardened criminals are evading
those kinds of logging, making sure they are not getting caught
by these measures. The same will happen here – people who are
seriously trying to share files, who really don’t care about what
the BPI have to say, they will carry on, and the technologies
will evolve. At the same time the BPI, the music companies, the
record companies are actually doing well out of the internet now.
For the past couple of years they’ve really started putting the
services out there – you’ve got Netflix, Lovefilm, as well as the
music services that have become more established. People are
starting to make money. That’s how you get to make money – you
give people products they want to pay for. All this
letter-sending threats, that’s a way to alienate you customers,
it’s not a way to make money.