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The UK Government's Struggle With Digital Rights

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the regulating-a-series-of-tubes dept.

United Kingdom 155

With his first accepted submission, Ajehals sends this excerpt from a post by the UK Pirate Party: "... at every turn, the coalition has been exposed as having no coherent policy on digital rights. Nothing illustrates this better than its zig-zag course on Internet filtering and website blocking. ... As if any further confirmation was needed that the government's policy on digital rights, and freedom of speech is entirely made up on the fly, along came the riots and a classic knee-jerk reaction to the use of social media. ... one of the few concrete parts of David Cameron’s statement to the recalled House of Commons was a full on attack on social media. It was carefully worded, but the thrust was that the Prime Minister thought further action is necessary to combat the 'ill' done by status updates. At this point things took a turn for the authoritarian, with MP Louise Mensch saying it was 'acceptable to shut Twitter and Facebook off for an hour or two.' ... Worse still, it has been recently revealed that the Government actually asked Ofcom to make Digital Economy Act appeals harder. It also wants to rule out a public consultation – once again trying to do deals away from the public eye. I suspect it is actually this fear of the power technology can give us to hold our representatives to account that drives alarm about the Internet in the corridors of power."

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Well that's not a surprise... (4, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301418)

The UK doesn't have a policy on civil rights anymore. Those were eroded away over the last few years.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301558)

The UK never had civil rights, they took the direct route from the big empire to the big brother state.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301562)

The UK never had civil rights, they took the direct route from the big empire to the big brother state.

That's a fancy line of thinking. In the real world though, the UK had civil rights as in, an as much as the magna carta [wikipedia.org] gave rights to the US, Canadians, Aussies and so on.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301728)

canadians as long as they were queens canadians. aussies as long as they weren't aboriginals, people of the great isles as long as they weren't scottish or irish and the english as long as they weren't against the state's ever changing policies. fine civil rights right there..

you do understand the difference between a free man and a serf? magna carta isn't as much about civil rights as it's about who has the right to fuck the common men up as much as they want, come industrialization and the mechanics changed just a little bit - for the better a bit as anyone could theoretically climb up, but magna carta is a lot about how all men are not equal.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301896)

Hasn't the rise of intellectual property done much the same for the citizens of the US? Actually, hasn't the rise of IP made the rest of the world subject to the copyright and IP laws of the United States? I know my country recently implemented laws as dictated by the media companies through the US government.

Make of that what you will, but I know that I'm now a serf to foreign businesses.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303462)

"as in, an as much as"
I'm guessing you missed those words.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37304214)

We all read them, but nobody could figure out what they meant.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302986)

If you're ever in Southern England, go and see the Magna Carta (one of them, but the best preserved one) at Salisbury Cathedral. It's amazing to see a document, written in 1215, still perfectly preserved and readable, with nothing between you and it but a pane of glass.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301660)

TFA makes out like the Internet is a minority issue that the masses don't understand. A shutdown of Twitter et al was never on the cards because most of the electorate uses those services and would cry foul. I hate to break it to you but we geeks are not the last bastion of liberty in a cold, oppressive world. If you want to see a country without civil liberties, try North Korea or even China.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301712)

TFA makes out like the Internet is a minority issue that the masses don't understand. A shutdown of Twitter et al was never on the cards because most of the electorate uses those services and would cry foul.

The article seems to focus on the main political parties, as opposed to the "masses". The Prime Minister said something along the lines of "we will look into whether it would be right to temporarily stop access to site such as twitter", so while it was never really on the cards, it was briefly thought about.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301774)

I was watching that debate as it was broadcast live. The PM made it clear that he was talking about stopping specific individual's access to social networking, not the whole population's access to it. He specifically stated that social networking was an important resource for the public to have access to during civil disobedience, because during the riots people were using it to avoid areas where there was. Whether it would be right to cut off an individual's access is an important debate, but the UK Pirate Party would much rather we thought he was talking about something more draconian.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302488)

Which debate was this? It was most assuredly not what was recorded in Hansard.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301662)

Here in germany they wanted to replace webpages with STOP signs.

"To fight pedophilia" they said.

Luckily education is still strong enough here so people were able to look through that claim and Ursula von der Leyen was renamed to "Zensursula".

We feel lucky our goverments attention is consumed by the failing Euro experiment for the time to come.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301754)

Whereas here in the UK, we replace webpages with 404 errors so that not only are they censored, but most viewers wouldn't realise the censorship was occuring.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (3, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301690)

The interesting thing is that none of the parties (with the exception of us Pirates, of course) even has a solid position on civil rights. With almost any other issue, Labour will go one way, Conservatives the other, and the Liberals will suggest a compromise. Membership of the European Union and the legal status of fox hunting are the only other issues that the big parties can't seem to make up their minds on, and falling out over both has caused a lot of internal damage to the parties.

On digital (and to a lesser extent civil) rights, all the other parties are flip-flopping or in internal disagreement. The really odd thing about this is (unlike fox hunting or EU membership) it doesn't represent the mood of the general public, who either don't care or are strongly in favour.

I'm shocked that neither of the 2 big parties have jumped on to the digital and civil rights bandwagon, forcing the opposition to take a less popular stance against them. It's a sure-fire vote winner, that doesn't have a economic big cost to implement.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (3, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301814)

That assumes the big two parties give a shit about votes, and not their paymasters. The electorate are also highly malleable. Recently, the Tories sold them the idea that the current electoral system is better than AV.

I'm coming round more and more to the idea that we should just scrap the veil of 'democracy' altogether.

You clearly don't understand politics (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301860)

Watch Yes Minister, not as a series on a specific subject but to get a feeling for the general atmosphere that exists in politics. Is it exaggerated for comedy effect? Not as much as you might think to some politicians of the time who commented on it.

If you jump on an issue and use it against the other side, the other side will use it against you when it comes time to deliver. take for instance the police. The Tories want safety BUT they are firing a record number of police officers and Labour is just tearing into them for it. The party though on crime? How can that be true if you are firing the same number of police officers as were needed to bring down the riots?

Promise something and you might have to deliver on it and have to deliver on something that you have no control over. Force British Telecom to respect privacy? Good luck, the board knows they got a job for near life, a poltician if he is lucky a job for a year or two at most before he is out by election of cabinet shuffle.

You can't even get rid of an obviously evil and dispised man like Rupert Murdoch. The people wanted his blood and ALL the politicians ended up with is smeared with Ruperts excrement quivering that the NEXT revelation will be about them.

The Liberals made plenty of pledges... like education and then whoops, the political reality of the day is that you sold your soul to the most sleazy party in history and not a single of your campaign promises survives. Gosh, they got a trashing for that didn't they in the most recent elections?

A politician is bound by what he says in the past but has almost no real power. See the recent riots, the public demanded strong punishment, the strong punishment want but now the immidiate outrage is over the bleeding hearts are right there back again with their weak sentencing that created the riots in the first place. Let us remember what the riots were about. A known criminal was shot while in possesion of a loaded weapon, something that is rather worse in a country where most police is not armed. the outcry? A black leader claiming that yes, this known dangerous criminal had a loaded weapon but surely that is not a reason to shoot someone... eh yes it is? Didn't even think of denying that the guy was dangerous or a known criminal or in possesion of a loaded weapon. The community leader has come to see that as normal and how dare the police upset the status quo by denying this man his right to be an armed criminal!

But as said, the first sentences were though and then they were overturned and the public is once again being lead by their media to be told how to feel and the BBC just can't stand to see a criminal in jail. They already had a hard enough time to show black people riotting, you could hear every commentator say that it was a mix of races when every video image showed immigrants. Only a few carefully selected shots showed white people.

Good luck taking a stand as a politician with all this.

Go ahead, take a stand on a single issue and I will show you will be torn apart for it and loose your next election. Right, left or center, don't care.

Re:You clearly don't understand politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302394)

They already had a hard enough time to show black people riotting, you could hear every commentator say that it was a mix of races when every video image showed immigrants. Only a few carefully selected shots showed white people.

You seem to be confusing skin colour with immigration status.

Re:You clearly don't understand politics (3, Informative)

AGMW (594303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302904)

The Liberals made plenty of pledges... like education and then whoops ...

... and then whoops, they didn't win, so all bets are off! I'm not a Lib Dem supporter, but really, their election promises were for if they won the election and however you cut it, they didn't win!

I'm more annoyed about both Lib Dem and Con MPs who said they'd repeal the Digital Economy Act if they got into power and they haven't done so. That's a far more heinous crime because there was really nothing to stop them just cutting it dead in the water on day one after the Nu-Liebour unelected mandarin, and multi-expelled from government for sleaze, Lord Mandlemort rail-roaded it through at the last minute.

It will be interesting to see what the parties are willing to promise next time around, but of course we haven't actually held them to their word this time, so I guess we're just back to business as usual!

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

MattBD (1157291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301874)

I'm not so sure. While I too would like to see at least one of the big parties supporting digital and civil rights a lot more than they do, the cynic in me makes me worry that any contrary stance adopted by the opposition would probably seek to portray these as things that benefited whatever group they were vilifying at the time (be it the unemployed, immigrants, criminals or single mothers) unfairly at the expense of others, and there are certain sections of the media that seem to love to portray these as a bad thing. The No to AV campaign a few months ago was probably the most cynical, underhanded and intellectually dishonest political campaign I have ever seen in this country, and I suspect a campaign pledge against digital and civil rights would be equally bad.

In my personal experience it's very scary how many people do not understand the significance of civil rights and merely see them as something that is used to justify not treating criminals more harshly. The government's e-petitions website is full of deeply unpleasant petitions proposing to limit people's human rights in various ways.

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302106)

Almost none of them mention Human responsibilities.. What they seem to propose is limiting people's 'human rights' if the don't meet their end of the bargain.. The system works well as long as everyone plays by the rules.. But when an increasingly visible win strategy is to dump on everyone, ignore all rights for others yet force them to meet their obligations, something is very wrong..

Re:Well that's not a surprise... (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302628)

The No to AV campaign a few months ago was probably the most cynical, underhanded and intellectually dishonest political campaign I have ever seen in this country, and I suspect a campaign pledge against digital and civil rights would be equally bad.

And the british public swallowed it hook line and sinker. After having lived here all my life the recent governments and elections we have had have convinced me it is a complete joke. The british system is based on the idea that government can do what it likes providing the majority of the populace will not be so up in arms that the take to the streets. It is not democracy, it is a dictatorship that you get a small say in once every 5 years when elections are due.

I am actually starting to like the Chinese system as at least there an ignorant pig farmer gets no say in things they are clearly not educated enough to understand. Here my vote is drowned out by the myriad of people solely rely on the Sun or Daily Mail for their knowledge of what is going on in the world. If you cannot be arsed to spend any time studying the important decisions government has to make on our behalf then you should lose your right to vote.

The way it is at the moment in this country Rupert Murdoch gets several million votes as he moulds the majority of the population into voting for who he wants to win. This would only change if people were forced to actually understand the issues facing us as a society and the news media was not all just a propaganda tool on behalf of big business.

This feels a lot like (4, Insightful)

Zsub (1365549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301448)

V for Vendetta
1984
A Brave New World

We see it coming and just don't give a damn, it seems. Where are the times governments were afraid of their people? Or at least had some respect for their people?

Re:This feels a lot like (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301468)

V for Vendetta

1984

A Brave New World

We see it coming and just don't give a damn, it seems. Where are the times governments were afraid of their people? Or at least had some respect for their people?

Wanting to shut down websites indicates the UK government is slightly afraid, no?

Re:This feels a lot like (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301530)

No way dude. If twitter and facebook are inaccessible for even one minute because they are rebooting their servers it is way worse than 1984 or V for Vendetta because access to twitter is a basic human right. Not having access to them would be like if North Korea was run by Hitler disguised as Big Brother. And like you know how everyone is smoking dope and shit. Well that's exactly like soma in Brave New World. We should totally legalize it. And if you like put on a mask and try and blow up Parliament people call you a terrorist.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301600)

Sir, I I had a hat, I would be tipping it to you!

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301604)

Gah! IF I had a hat. Totally lost the meaning on one missing letter...

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301638)

No way dude. If twitter and facebook are inaccessible for even one minute because they are rebooting their servers it is way worse than 1984 or V for Vendetta because access to twitter is a basic human right. Not having access to them would be like if North Korea was run by Hitler disguised as Big Brother. And like you know how everyone is smoking dope and shit. Well that's exactly like soma in Brave New World. We should totally legalize it. And if you like put on a mask and try and blow up Parliament people call you a terrorist.

You probably think that you are clever but you are not.
The main use of both Twitter and Facebook is to communicate with other people. What Hitlers Germany, North Korea and the society in 1984 has in common is that they find it preferable if all communication goes through the government instead of directly between people.
No-one is claiming that the U.K. government is currently killing a lot of Jews and that they let people starve to death. (In any significant numbers that is.)
The point is that the common denominator for all abusive governments, be it in Libya, USSR, NK or country of your choice, is that they prevent people from communicating freely.
You can't just start oppressing a population over night, you have to start somewhere, and the only safe place to start is to control communication, it has always been that way and will always be.
That is why any kind of censorship has to be fought as if it was "North Korea was run by Hitler disguised as Big Brother" because that is what all those things has in common.

Re:This feels a lot like (3, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301780)

That is why any kind of censorship has to be fought as if it was "North Korea was run by Hitler disguised as Big Brother" because that is what all those things has in common.

They're also run by people who breathe, so by your argument we should put a stop to breathing. Ever heard of affirming the consequent?

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301922)

They're also run by people who breathe, so by your argument we should put a stop to breathing.

I am ok with this, as long as it is the ruling class here in the U.S.A. that has that restriction. In less than five minutes, we could solve the whole problem that is "Congress."

Re:This feels a lot like (2)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301966)

Totally dude. When my grandfather was storming the beaches at Normandy I'm sure one of the rights he was sure he was defending was the right to say publicly "NE1 ELSE FEEL LIKE JOINING ME ROBBIN JB SPROTS IN TEH EAST END AN STEELIN XBOXEZ AN PSFREES(LOL) FROM CURRIES?!?". Also as someone who was not exactly a teetotaller but was not keen on alcohol I'm sure he'd be very keen to allow kids to smoke heroin around the subway station instead of going to school.

Re:This feels a lot like (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302356)

"NE1 ELSE FEEL LIKE JOINING ME ROBBIN JB SPROTS IN TEH EAST END AN STEELIN XBOXEZ AN PSFREES(LOL) FROM CURRIES?!?"

Yeah. As long as you don't find that type of speech important, it must not be! It's factually okay to censor any speech you deem as unimportant.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302068)

The main use of both Twitter and Facebook is to communicate with other people

No, the main use for these systems is to build large databases of connections between people and between people and things for data mining by encouraging communications to flow via a single choke point. As a side effect, they also make it trivial for a single entity to restrict and censor communication. The fact that they provide some communication is a side effect of their main purpose.

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301652)

I'm sorry, while I agree that the concept of a government by the people and for the people died a long time ago, but twitter's a basic human right?
You really need to read this:
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
I'm posting article 12 here for your benefit

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

That is the only one about correspondence and I think the major point is the term arbitrary. While a government can not simply shut down any form of communication when ever it feels like it. They can if there's justification. And I think a mass riot, called for or not, is one place where they can and should. I'm not going to debate if there was reason for the riots. That's a very touchy subject, and yes from what I've heard there is a dejected and marginalized youth with a dim future in the UK.
But there were over a 100 injured and 5 killed! When social order breaks down to that extent some drastic measures might be called for. If a social media service like twitter is helping to fuel the riot then when would you say it's okay to suspend it till cooler heads prevail? After 10 people die? 20? 30? There has to be a point where some sort of action is taken right? If not then a person's basic human right to feel safe in their own homes and communities is in jeopardy. And I kind of think that basic human right trumps twitter, maybe just a bit eh?

Finally believe me, I'm all for change. I feel that the majority of governments have failed their citizens on both a micro and macro scale. And many people justifiably feel disenchanted with the political systems. But don't lump rioting with the justified civil wars in countries like Egypt, Libya and other truly suppressed peoples. I can't say how many. but I'm sure a lot of rioters, just like in Vancouver, did it because it got their rocks off. Plus you could get a great deal on a TV as well.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301736)

But there were over a 100 injured and 5 killed! When social order breaks down to that extent some drastic measures might be called for. If a social media service like twitter is helping to fuel the riot then when would you say it's okay to suspend it till cooler heads prevail? After 10 people die? 20? 30? There has to be a point where some sort of action is taken right? If not then a person's basic human right to feel safe in their own homes and communities is in jeopardy. And I kind of think that basic human right trumps twitter, maybe just a bit eh?

My main concern with shutting down any form of communication in a situation like a riot is that now anyone nearby not participating in the riots have a lot less information about what is happening where (I'm sure a service like twitter would be helpful in finding places where riots are happening and avoid them as much as possible). They will also find it harder to contact their loved ones to ensure them that they are OK or check that their loved ones are OK (I would imagine that if a riot is happening and you can't get through to someone, a lot of people will start panicking).

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301794)

My main concern with shutting down any form of communication in a situation like a riot is that now anyone nearby not participating in the riots have a lot less information about what is happening where (I'm sure a service like twitter would be helpful in finding places where riots are happening and avoid them as much as possible). They will also find it harder to contact their loved ones to ensure them that they are OK or check that their loved ones are OK (I would imagine that if a riot is happening and you can't get through to someone, a lot of people will start panicking).

A point that David Cameron himself made, which is why he did not suggest shutting down twitter, he suggested cutting off access for the instigators of the trouble. Doesn't make for such a sensationalist headline, though, does it? (And no, I am not a Cameron supporter, I see his policies and those of his party as damaging and divisive. But there are plenty of real things to criticise him for, there's no need to invent stuff like this.)

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302360)

he suggested cutting off access for the instigators of the trouble.

And how would they easily accomplish that, I wonder?

Re:This feels a lot like (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302426)

With the cooperation of the social network providers -- some of whom already said that they were cooperating with the government during the riots. Yes, of course the instigators could move onto other networks, but it doesn't matter so much if hardly anybody is listening to them there.

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37305086)

That's why they're called "hard" choices. I'm not saying that it wouldn't entail hardships for the non rioters. I'm just saying in a sh@tty situation you have to do what needs to be done as quickly as you can. Twitter could of been set up with a default log-in message (not sure, don't us it myself) saying "due to the nature of the current situation Twitter is not available".
I mean what would you prefer? Contacting a love one on twitter but having them get injured or even die due to the extended length of the riot? Or have the riots end sooner with them never even spreading to where your loved one was? Again no easy choices, but I have to come down on the side of reducing the extent of the riot over not stepping on people's ability to stay in contact.
Srry just the way I see it.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301764)

If the government is deliberately taking down the most popular communications media for the purpose of stifling free speech, that is a big deal.

The "War on Drugs" is actually the "War on Some Drugs". It is first and foremost a money maker. In particular relation to this conversation, it keeps the demand for pharmaceuticals up. Misprescription of drugs is one of the largest killers in this country. They just almost killed a friend of mine who went into the hospital for meningitis, she would probably be dead now if the nurse hadn't caught a misprescription made by a doctor who couldn't be arsed to give one fuck. This war is all but world wide and the primary force behind it has been the USA. So when you bring up Soma facetiously then I think you are a schmuck.

I know you just think you're clever, but you're doing their work for them by downplaying the evil they are doing when they deliberately cut off free speech for even a short period. Ultimately it will come back to haunt them as it proves to more people that they are corrupt. When you start actually inconveniencing the people (normally drunk on bread and circuses, but not completely insensible) then they get grumpy.

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37304188)

OMG. I have to know: are you trolling? If so, you win a thousand internetz for being brilliantly subtle.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304842)

I would never come clean to an AC. That's like putting your nuts in the dictionary and asking onlookers to flip to their favorite definition of pain.

Re:If twitter and facebook are inaccessible (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302544)

So it is Brave New World after all. Those sites are the new Soma. They soothe the populace. Yes, some care must be taken down to delete the really dangerous threads, otherwise all is nice and dandy with cat pictures.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301568)

You may as well have done with it and add Monty Python and Benny Hill to that list. Twat.

Re:This feels a lot like (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301580)

Is there some Godwin's Law equivalent for mentioning 1984/Orwell when discussing the UK government? If not, there should be.

More specifically, people saying: "I didn't think 1984 was meant to be an instruction manual!" or similar.

If you have a problem with the policy - explain why you think it's a bad policy.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301588)

If you have a problem with the policy - explain why you think it's a bad policy.

Which policy? My understanding of the article is that the three main political parties in the UK either have no policy (regarding digital rights), or don't understand the issues well enough (which has led them in the past to say something, then later backtrack because they realise it is unworkable or infeasible). I would say that an inconsistent and contradictory policy is a bad one.

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301636)

I would say that an inconsistent and contradictory policy is a bad one.

See how easy that was?

Paraphrasing the rest of your post:
I think that the political parties should have coherent, workable, and consistent policies on digital rights. I think they haven't done this and that it has led to them having to backtrack on policies in the past and has forced them to make policy on the hoof with little understanding of the issues at hand.

That's a much more useful thing to say than "it's like 1984" or "I disagree with this". It raises specific problems you have with the current approach which can be discussed further. It's much more conducive to debate than just slamming the door in their face and proclaiming they are all totalitarian dictators without saying why you think that.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302278)

There is an inverse law: Whenever those wanting to restrict rights mention pedophiles, they win automatically. It's an unbeatable argument, because no matter how stupid their proposal may be few people of any influence will dare to criticise it for fear of being seen as endangering children.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301864)

"V for vendetta" is the story of a well-connected but anonymous dissident empowering the populace of a totalitarian regime.

"1984" is the story of a middle-class dissident choosing to assist the deceit and theft conducted by a totalitarian regime.

But the relevance of "A brave new world" escapes me. It is the story of a tourist who visits a city where advanced technology causes the sentimental values of trust and loyalty and duty to be replaced by narcissism and quick-fixes. If I recall correctly, the author meant the story to indicate the insanity of clinging to old values in a changing society.

"Fahrenheit 451" would be a better fit with the first two. It is the story of a fireman who realises that by destroying books he is eliminating knowledge and history and culture.

Brave New World? (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302040)

Have you read Brave New World? Control was based on distraction, not policing -- it was basically on the opposite end of the spectrum from 1984. People were allowed to disagree with the government and reject the society of the world; they just had to do so on an island somewhere.

Re:Brave New World? (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302324)

The islands were not public knowledge.

Brave New World showed a society controlled by luxury and trivia - the bread and circuses approach. Rather than keep people in their assigned place through the threat of violence, BNWs model kept people in their place by making them so happy there that they would not want to consider rebellion. The system gave them food, comfort, a culture of sexual liberation, and all the shallow and vapid entertainment they could ever want - even the promise of a recreational drug to relieve any feelings of futility coming from living a life pre-scripted by the government. As dystopias go, it's one of the better ones - even those who are most 'oppressed,' the deltas, are manufactured and conditioned in such a manner that they are happy. There are almost no need to stop people from rejecting the society of that world, because very few people had any reason to.

Or just look at the image: http://www.recombinantrecords.net/images/2009-05-Amusing-Ourselves-to-Death.png [recombinantrecords.net]

Re:This feels a lot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37303054)

You forgot a very important one: We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304784)

Where are the times governments were afraid of their people?

They are afraid, that's why they're freaking out.

Possibly what you actually want is a government that isn't afraid of its people, but enjoys a courteous and respectful two-way relationship based on mutal trust and honesty?

Re:This feels a lot like (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304922)

There were major differences between each vision of the future.

1984 - The whole world is going to pieces with three major superpowers always forming truces, alliances and then going to war with each other. Information (or propoganda) has become so common that they are desperately trying to control it through NewsSpeak, but the system feeds on and ends up contradicts itself, so the population stops paying attention and the powers in charge get paranoid. Based on what remained of the bombed-out city suburbs in the UK and Europe.

Brave New World - There are no more wars, but take the central planning strategy of Nationalist countries to the extreme, and use genetic manipulation to predetermine the intelligence of new citizens. They can then assign them to whatever roles suitable. Alphas, Betas are the brightest, Deltas and Epsilons employed for tasks like operating elevators and delivering telegrams. As a result, flow of information is strictly controlled and only available for those who need it. Everyone is kept happy through free drugs, movies and sex. Based on the rapid advances in medical technology in the 1930's as well as the growing international political parties.

V for Vendetta - Based on life in London under New Labour.

1920's and 1930's: everyone thought the world was getting a better place with medical research.
1930's - 1940's - governments feared technology like cameras and microfilm were being used by spies.
1950's - 1960's - end of rationing meant everyone thought the world was getting better.
1970's - 1980's - everyone thought the world was getting a worse place as jobs were being lost to the Far East, while at the same time, silicon chips were finding markets. We did see the dangers of database technology and passed laws like the Data Protection Act.
1990's - 2010's - we start seeing technology being used to allow criminal rings to operate and organize, so governments want to log all communications.

That was a party political broadcast on behalf of. (2)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301450)

Is this a new service that ./ is trying? Will the other parties also get their statements posted word for word?

Re:That was a party political broadcast on behalf (2)

azzy (86427) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301508)

I wouldn't quite describe it as a broadcast, as here you are offering your opinion. /. is giving us the opportunity to debate the 'political statement' and if you have a contrary political position you get to paste it in here word for word in reply. As for why /. is prepared to accept this 'political statement' for publishing, it could be due to its relevance to us 'nerds'. If the way our politicians treat our internet and deal with us as internet users isn't something that 'matters', when what does matter?

Re:That was a party political broadcast on behalf (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301572)

Is this a new service that ./ is trying? Will the other parties also get their statements posted word for word?

Quite a lot of article summaries on slashdot are usually a word for word extract from the source (which are often press releases).

Re:That was a party political broadcast on behalf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301688)

Well, you get to debate them and offer your opinions. It's got clear Your Rights Online interest. Loz Kaye's blogged about this kind of thing a lot.

One thing Loz pointed out here which even I missed was that the Government hasn't done a U-turn exactly, it's being careful not to contradict itself, but rather different departments have inconsistent positions on the same issue. You ask, you get a statement, you ask someone else, you get a different statement, and they're completely at odds with one another. Deliberately confusing the issue so there isn't a consistent position to fight against, or just woolly thinking?

[soapbox]
I personally feel that website blocking is not only unworkable and impractical, but wholly undesirable in a Western democracy party to the ECHR with (since the Human Rights Act) a constitutional requirement for freedom of speech, communication and association. That this Government has made rumbles about going back on that, if they are even capable of doing so, is extremely distasteful and needs to be fought in the strongest possible terms - these are, after all, human rights you're talking about here, things we consider to be fundamental. Mass internet censorship is one of the primary hallmarks of an oppressive state: ask Iran, Syria, Burma, China, or of course Egypt, whose attempts to turn off the internet during a popular revolution massively backfired.

Or put another way: If the Chinese government praises your internet strategy, you're doing it wrong.

Internet censorship is evil. The internet community treats it as the fundamental damage it is, and people like me help it to route around that damage. It needs to be fought, by any reasonable means necessary. Personally, my chosen ways to do this are political campaigning and the continuing development of anti-censorship tools, some of which you may already have used, some of which are new and still in development. Are anti-censorship tools like this - things which the UK and US governments have praised, and even once funded and offered to fund more recently, as enabling freedom to those in oppressive states - are they going to become illegal as censorship circumvention tools here, too?

Do you honestly think that I'd change a clearly-held political and moral stance and stop fighting against censorship - or fight harder because the evil has moved so close to home I can face it directly and stand and fight it? I already consider adversaries up to the level of state actors as being the threat model for my protocols: it's a bitter taste to actually consider my own government as an adversary to be countered, if it comes to it, but I have planned for that, I stand ready, and I'm quite certain I'll win. After all, I'm still winning against the others, and the Iranians are more technically capable than the UK government. How many smart people do you think will stay on your side, if you think the way forward for Britain is censorship, oppression and intolerance? We know where this road ends. This isn't how you stop a revolution. It's how you start one. Think it over.
[/soapbox]

Full disclosure: This Anonymous Coward is a PPUK member, and a developer of anti-censorship software.

TFA is confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301634)

Too many concepts are confused in TFA, where the concepts are really simple.

Government must not prevent competition, it must not create and maintain monopolies through any of its policies. It must not be allowed to prop up monopolies, businesses, money interests.

The entire concept of "digital rights" cannot be understood if the concept of basic human rights is completely thrown out of the window, and this concept IS thrown out of the window where government is manipulating, regulating individuals and businesses, destroying liberties instead of maintaining and protecting them.

1. Individuals have all the rights.

2. Government cannot assign rights. Rights exist, government must only protect them.

3. Government cannot take rights of individuals away and give these rights to non-individuals. This means that liability of one individual in the market for a recourse against another individual must not be limited by government, which must protect rights, not take rights away.

All of the above means this: government must not be allowed to set rights or to remove rights artificially. So there must not be a government dictated concept of "limited liability". Government must not be able to take away rights of people to copy and reproduce ideas, doesn't matter who came out with them.

If you want your idea to be protected from copying - it's your problem. Two words for you: trade secrets.

---
PS. I am posting this as AC, because my account has been flooded with "troll" moderations, so I cannot post under my own name.

I am given clear indications [slashdot.org] on how this site operates, any opinion that I express is immediately marked as a troll. Doesn't matter, whoever marks it: I am going to keep posting my opinions, and if anybody is interested, they'll find them on this site. But it's interesting how many people on this do not understand the most basic concepts of what rights are, what government is for and what is basically right and wrong.

Re:TFA is confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301698)

"my account has been flooded with "troll" moderations, so I cannot post under my own name"

Contrary to what the FAQ says, the Troll mod does mean "I disagree".

Obviously, we can't allow Slashdot to be used as a platform by suspected libertarians, though we'll happily use it as a mouthpiece for the Pirate Party, the Democrats, or any party with "Green" in its name.

Mainstream political opinions received from The Daily Show? +5 Insightful!!!

It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301642)

The UK government folks probably genuinely believe that shutting down social media would be usful to stop waves of criminality like the recent rioting. The fact it hands enormous power to the government is a side effect that they either don't see or (more likely) welcome, but it's not the aim.

This ranting and posturing about evil people in charge is misguided. The point is that through good intentions both people and government can slide into sinister and easily abused situations. Not that the politicians at the top are already aiming for them.

This is why the people who notice this stuff must be extra vigilant, because it is all done with semi-good intent, but it takes us to the same bad place.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301714)

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption.
I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition.
I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.
There are of course those who do not want us to speak.
I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why?
Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease.
There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
Last night I sought to end that silence.
Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory.
His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.
IMDB

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301866)

The free flow of information is one of the greatest threats to governmental control. They tremble in fear that the mob could actual organize on the fly. If you notice the first thing the Libyan tryrant did was to try to shut down the internet and cell phone access. Government is a necessary evil and that government that governs least is the least evil.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (2)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302476)

And if you think that applies to the situation in which the current UK PM suggested shutting down social media, then you've been misinformed.

Don't get me wrong, the curtailing of communication freedoms is evil, but in this case it's evil done with misguided (mostly) good intent. This (IMHO) makes it all the more dangerous and would make it all the easier for Qadaffi's to take over the UK in the future.

I don't believe that UK politics is in the stage where communication of the people scares it, I believe they are in the stage where they genuinely think that censorship is a good thing.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37303316)

If they're not scared, they're incompetent. People DDOSd the legal system with zero notice and noone in power saw it coming. I think the riot sounded a bit like this:
 

" I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid... you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you. "

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37303852)

Good intent for whom? Yeah.. it makes the government's job easier to do.

But it does that in both the case of the UK and Libya. Mostly good intent, my ass. If it were for mostly good intent, then the people who want to shut off communications would recognize that they've come up short at their jobs and would get the fuck out of office. Takes too sides to cause a riot. The rioters, obviously. But also the poor fucking government that makes rioters want to riot. So, yeah, if you need to resort to extremes to restore order then go for it. Immediately quit afterwards, because you helped govern the country into the mess that required extreme measures.

This is basically true anywhere in the world. And guess how many people step up and say "Uh.. yeah. So, it turns out I suck at this job. I'm resigning immediately after this announcement. Please find someone better equipped to run the country." Its gonna be a short list.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304740)

I don't think that the riots were in any way political. They were comparatively small and all about stealing stuff.

The misguided but mostly good intent here is to stop them being able to organise. You'll notice that later debate focussed on taking away the ability for the instigators of this criminal activity to cause more trouble through these services.

"Immediately quit afterwards, because you helped govern the country into the mess that required extreme measures.

This is basically true anywhere in the world. And guess how many people step up and say "Uh.. yeah. So, it turns out I suck at this job. I'm resigning immediately after this announcement. Please find someone better equipped to run the country." Its gonna be a short list."

And in democracies we don't always have the same people in power now that actually caused the trouble, do we? In the UK we currently call the people that caused the deep financial suffering of many in the UK "The Labour Party". I agree that they all would have resigned had they any honour.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304806)

They tremble in fear that the mob could actual organize on the fly.

Well, either that or they're doing their job to preserve public order and they noticed that idiots organised not peaceful hippie protests but riots using Facebook, and the evil lazy conservative middle-class population have a funny habit of disliking riots. Very regressive of them, I'm sure.

Just because somebody is against the government doesn't mean they're actually for anything good. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is just a jerk.

Re:It's not a power grab, that's a side effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37303148)

Being oblivious to the consequences of your actions is a form of evil.

They are still evil people, even if they don't mean to be.

In the end, as you say, it doesn't matter.  But I don't think your fine shades of meaning will ever convince anyone.

Nah (2)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303490)

The ranting and posturing about evil people organizing is misguided too. Shit happens, and you don't choose when you feel the urge. In this case, people don't care about the harm they are doing because they care more about taking advantage of the situation to feed some short term desire. Sounds like that's what the UK government is trying to do as well..

Propaganda? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301656)

Seriously, is /. pushing political parties now?
Yes, the UK government has problems. But that's no reason to blatantly promote another political party. Even if it aligns with the general opinion of the /. community (and mine).

Re:Propaganda? (3, Interesting)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301762)

Well, I'm no wiser about the submission system policy than you, but I guess that any other party that submitted something coherent and relevant would probably get it featured too. Any pro-Pirate bias probably comes from the fact that we're submitting stuff and the others are not.

Personally, I'd love to see the other parties engaging with the Slashdot crowd, talking to a well informed non-partisan audience about digital matters could really help them make good decisions on digital (and civil rights) issues.

Not coherent or relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302152)

The government has said it isn't going to pursue powers to inhibit Twitter, Facebook or Blackberry Messenger.
Convenient as they might be, sites like Newzbin which are used almost entirely to engage in copyright infringement do not have a right to that speech. I've both used them, *and* expected that their existence could not continue.

The inevitable "1984 was a warning not a guide" and "UK is turning into a police state" posts are as predictable as they are stupid. We should be talking about the real issues.

Re:Not coherent or relevant (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302208)

What exactly do you suggest are the "real issues"?

IMHO, the "real issues" are that copyright trolls are working hard to ensure that no copyrighted material ever arrives in the public domain. Copyright in perpetuity is what they are aiming for. More, they are working to ensure that those copyright "laws" are enforceable around the world.

The 1984 posts may amuse you, but I consider them to be words of wisdom. As for the UK, it's been a police state for quite a long while now. Brits have an entirely different psychology than us wild men from the Americas. In fact, their psychology is quite different from those wild men down under, as well! Then, there is Canada, where the women are wilder than the men, LMAO!

Re:Not coherent or relevant (2)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303748)

The UK is a police state but the US isn't?

Have you ever seen "Cops"?
You know, the show that's supposed to show the best of the US police but instead ends up showing people harassed and arrested for looking at an officer the wrong way?

The uk may be a surveillance state like no other, but it's not half the police state the US is turning into.

Re:Propaganda? (0)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303072)

It can't happen. Even articulate, cited, well written posts that go against the slashdot hive mind don't get modded up or do get modded down. I dont know what a fix would be but it would help to have a banner beside the mod window saying in big letters "you are not moderating for agreement"

Re:Propaganda? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302072)

Well, anything that has come out of David Camoron's mouth recently has pissed me off personally, so I for one approve off this political mudslinging. I can fantasize this being a part of his slowly unraveling punishment for being a red-cheeked bastard.

ike this kind of article (1)

avikmajumder (2442080) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301674)

I like this kind of article. Thanks soulskil.

Every cloud has a silver lining ;-) (3, Interesting)

MrNthDegree (2429298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301700)

Suggesting shutting down Facebook for an hour or two sounds like the best thing the Conservatives have said/done in a long time... Facebook is as creepy as hell. They keep a lot of data pretty much indefinitely, without a lot of user cooperation and/or DPA requests. Every message ever sent between users, every wall post, every app result/request, GeoIP on logins and EXIF tags from pictures to reveal location at any given point in time, friends "check you in" to places. Even without malicious abuse of Facebook APIs for using all that data to track you (Police app anyone?) the whole thing is as creepy as hell. That and Facebook controls the flow of information quite strictly, there are phrases one can't post on Facebook due to censorship/filtering. It takes a lot of hard work to sanitise a Facebook profile and still have it be usable for all the benefits of social networking. Sure the rest of Conservative policies when it comes to IT and freedom (RIPA, DEA, Terrorism Act) are ghastly but I can't disagree with wanting to shut down Facebook, that is doing the brainwashed masses a favour...

Re:Every cloud has a silver lining ;-) (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37304174)

Except that the rationale used for shutting down FB and Twitter is exactly the same as the one that would be used to shut down a communication service that is FOSS, respects privacy, has no censorship (you're missing a citation for that, btw - sounds to me you're mistaking reporting pages by the community with actual filtering) and otherwise farts unicorns and lives on rainbows.

That's the problem here. This is where a slippery slope argument is not a fallacy, but a valid argument: the argument used is one of effect, not of technology. As a result, anytime anything comes out of a communication service that anyone disapproves with, it will get shut down with the same reasoning. That should terrify you.

Why should digital rights be any different? (2)

Oxygen99 (634999) | more than 2 years ago | (#37301760)

Heh, Mensch is a loudmouth with only a tangential connection to reality. I wouldn't take what she had to say too seriously. Besides. I don't see why the policy on digital rights should be any less zig-zag and arbitrary than anything else that shower come up with. Cameron, Gove et al have been making up policy on the hoof since they returned to power. This is just one more example of the woeful disconnect between what reality is and what they'd like it to be. Ah well. I guess we all get the politicians we deserve.

The electorate voted for the right lizards. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301980)

at least, they thought they did...

Re:Why should digital rights be any different? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302034)

I wonder if Mensch is even human.

Re:Why should digital rights be any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302136)

Yeah, i'm sure it's not important - lets all ignore it.

For a "one or two hours" ... then 3, 6, 24, etc.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37301994)

"'acceptable to shut Twitter and Facebook off for an hour or two.'"

When and why is it ever acceptable? Why, in the midst of a riot, would you want to shut off people's means of communication? That's like locking the doors in a burning building to make sure an arsonist doesn't escape. Or blockading all highways after a hit-and-run, not even allowing ambulances to travel to the accident scene. Sure, maybe you'll stop the "bad guys", but you'll stop everyone else too. Granted, maybe twitter and facebook aren't exactly important, but the principle behind doing this is risky. Will they start blocking mobile phones generally?

Communication in a riot is what you *NEED*, so that people who need help can contact people they care about and contact the authorities. It doesn't make sense unless you can reliably identify the "bad guys" and shut off their access individually. Good luck with that.

We've dreamed of it and the time has come. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37302050)

Back when I was younger, everybody had this common dream of a democratic participatory decision society, one in which opinions would be sent and compiled -- to give a more close to common folks control of the society.

We've seen what happened in countries like Egypt and Lybia; but the same things already happen in more advanced countries, with emails making candidates resign etc.

Now, we learn politicians are afraid of this and want to throttle it down, probably because traditional voting is more prone to being "influenced" (i.e., less democratic).

It seems our dream is annoying certain folks...

Struggle with digital rights? (-1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302164)

To be fair, I'm not English, Welsh, Scottish, or even Irish. And, I've not been to the UK in more than 25 years. But, from my point of view, there is no struggle. The Brits give the "rights holders" everything they ask for. In the UK, you even have to PAY to own a television or a radio!

There are a lot of things to like about the Brits, but their "struggle" with digital rights is akin to an oxymoron. Everyone, from the sovereign to the common serfs has rolled over, without so much as a protest. We have more of a struggle here in the states than the Brits do. Not that it matters much, since all the politicians have prostituted themselves to the "rights holders".

Re:Struggle with digital rights? (3, Insightful)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302290)

That's not accurate. The licence fee pays for the BBC (advert free), and some subsidy of Channel 4 and S4C (which are also funded by advertisments). You only need a television licence to receive live broadcasts. Non-live services like iPlayer do not require a licence. There is no requirement at all to have a licence to receive radio.

Anyone thinking that the Pirate Party UK are in any way relevant to the debate are entirely mistaken. The leader of the party stood at the last election here in Worcester and lost his deposit. The real debate about digital rights should be about why the Labour Party were allowed to push through the Digital Economy Act 2010 (UK equivalent of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) right at the end of the final Parliamentary session before the General Election without it receiving anything like the amount of scrutiny it needed or deserved in Parliament. The Liberal Democrats promised to repeal many parts of the act in their manifesto, however the act was not mentioned in the Coalition Agreement. The Conservative Party promised a 'bonfire' of bad legislation passed by the Labour Party; this has not yet materialised and the DEA 2010 appears to be off the political agenda at the moment.

Re:Struggle with digital rights? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302334)

Some of us are more than happy to pay to support the BBC. They actually provide some good programs, and their documentories are some of the best in the world. Unlike the commercial broadcasters, they don't have to dumb things down to achieve mass-appeal and maximum ad revenue.

Re:Struggle with digital rights? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303744)

Plus they force all the commercial broadcasters to raise their game. Without the BBC, British media would long ago have descended to the same level as the USA.

Re:Struggle with digital rights? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302982)

In the UK, you even have to PAY to own a television or a radio!

As opposed to stealing a television or a radio to own it?

We need the Pirate Party in the USA (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302322)

Being a Democrat or Republican is so 90's. In fact, when it comes to corporate ass kissing, I see very little difference. Either the Democrats are "in charge" and our President can't wait to roll over to the Republicans demands, or the Republicans are and there is one less step in the process loop. I'm tired of all of it.

I want the Pirate Party! They stand for fairness.

I know, it's "throwing away my vote" but in reality our county has Diebold electronic voting machines so what I choose is changed to fit "our owners" wishes anyway.

I'm done!

Re:We need the Pirate Party in the USA (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303264)

Yeah but have you actually read their manifesto [pirateparty.org.uk] ? They have some great articles, and I do support the direction they desire but look at the craziness:

They want copyright to be 10 years. Yes, the current term is ridiculous, but so is 10 years! To put this in perspective, Windows XP, and the first Lord of the Rings film would now be out of copyright. That seems a little ridiculous. In fact it is even more ridiculous when you consider whether expensive software (CAD, video editing, etc) could compete with their free older versions. 30 years seems like a reasonable copyright length.

They want to essentially make all filesharing legal, as long as no money changes hands. I'm not going to be a hypocrite and say that I don't pirate, or I only pirate for moral reasons. I do all the time, and I do it because it is free, easy and restriction-free. I possibly would pay if there were a cheap, easy and restriction-free solution but there isn't yet. But making it totally legal? That's just retarded.

Don't get me wrong, there are good ideas, e.g. requiring a working model for patents, but they need to cut the copyright craziness. Also single-issue parties never stand a chance anyway.

Re:We need the Pirate Party in the USA (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303540)

Copyright should not exist at all 10 years is too long for what should be 0 years. Copyright has clearly failed to do what it was originally intended to do - that is, end the patron system. Copyright only solidified it more and turned "art" into a business. Now we have massive, multinational corporations suing both consumers and artists not affiliated with them into submission. All for what? Art was and will be produced without copyright. It always has. It always will be. Copyright is an immoral institution that needs abolished, and people need to wake up to that fact. The Romantics are spinning so fast in their graves, we could solve our energy problems just by sticking Victor Hugo's casket in a generator.

Re:We need the Pirate Party in the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37304352)

There is a Pirate Party in the US...

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/United_States_Pirate_Party [wikimedia.org]

It's just the US two-party system that pushes all the small parties under the rock.

Wrong choice (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302546)

Don't shut them down during riots, monitor them and arrest those leading the riot. Knowledge is power, knowing who and where to arrest to stop a riot is great power. The police are fools not to use this to their advantage.

Re:Wrong choice (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37302722)

Don't shut them down during riots, monitor them and arrest those leading the riot.

In the recent London riots, the police complained they couldn't monitor blackberry messenger, which happens to be popular among chavs here. How would your proposal help at all in this situation when it's not possible to just monitor?

Is this a surprise? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303092)

Cameron has no coherent policy on anything.

He's a PR weenie, 'policy' is determined by whatever will get him the best press at the time.

Or, a more important alternate headline... (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303488)

The UK Government's Struggle with basic law and order.

This would go too far... (1)

wintywashere (673739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37303846)

Personally I think the vast majority of the rioters were opportunists who were doing this for kicks or a few looting opportunities. However, shutting down an entire communications network is overkill - sure, when people arrange and commit crimes using social networking, arrest them and throw the book at them. But when you stop people communicating because you fear what they're saying, that's when your real riots will start.
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