I don’t normally cross-post stuff here that I write at any of my other haunts except in cases of something I feel really strongly about, which in this case I do. If there is one thing happening right now that you really need to understand the implications of it is ACTA.
In light if the FCC loss to Comcast in the courts Fred Wilson wrote an interesting post where he uses the phrase Internet Freedom and how it is an important concept for his company Union Square Ventures and how it impacts their investment thinking.
Our firm, Union Square Ventures, focuses most of our time on finding companies, investing in them, and working with the entrepreneurs to build them. But a few years ago, we made the decision to invest a small amount of our time on public policy issues, like net neutrality, patent reform, spectrum reform, immigration reform, and a handful of other ones. All of this and more is about Internet Freedom. Our business requires it. If we lose Internet Freedom, we won’t have any companies we would want to invest in and we’ll close up shop and move on with our lives. That would be our loss.
Noble words indeed.
Idealism versus citizens under siege
During this conversation around the FCC loss there was another big Internet Freedom action going on in Britain. I am of course referring to the Digital Economy Bill which was passed in their House of Parliament much to the horror of anyone involved with Internet policy and freedom. It wasn’t so much that it past but the fact that it was done so with next to no debate because of tactic used by the Labour Government to sneak it by in the quiet days leading up to their upcoming election.
Shortly before midnight last night, the UK’s Labour Government finally managed to push through its Digital Economy Bill. It’s a controversial and wide-ranging piece of legislation that is aimed at tackling copyright infringement and, among other things, will force ISPs to cut off persistent file-sharers. Because the bill was forced through during the “washup” period before parliament is dissolved in advance of May’s General Election, there has been concern that the bill hasn’t been debated thoroughly, and not enough attention has been paid to its implications for digital freedoms — for example, the Bill could have the unintended consequence of forcing places like libraries and cafes to stop offering free Wi-Fi. It could also give the government the power to block sites like Wikileaks, just because it hosts copyright-infringing material.
On one hand we have the idealistic thoughts of Fred Wilson and on the other we have the total capitulation of a government to paranoia and draconian methods of trying to control one’s population.
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