If you are interested in internet freedom, please read the following.
Tomorrow, 12th may 2009, the French parliament will vote on a controversial law which is supposed to solve the problem of copyrighted music and movies being shared on the internet. This law is often called the "HADOPI law", after the name of the "High Authority" that will be created to manage the whole stuff.
Check out these awesome features:
- Get punished because of your neighbour or a robot. It's your fault if your Wi-Fi is not secured. It's your fault if some computer geniuses are able to craft your IP address.
- State-controlled spyware: install it or you can't prove you're innocent. But you aren't totally innocent, are you?
- We are family. Family solidarity has never felt that good: everyone in the household gets deprived of internet because of just one P2P addict.
- Pay for your cut-off internet service: you can't use it, but you sure still pay for it. You can't subscribe anywhere else, anyway, so you don't need this money anymore, right?
- Punishment first, discussion later. Your internet was cut off and you did nothing bad? Well, just file a complaint and wait for a few months. If you are right, your internet will be back. If you were wrong, it will be back as well, since the cut-off period as ran out. Innocent or guilty, who cares, after all?
- Get your business ruined because of one guy. Internet service is vital for your business? You'd better be careful, any of your employee can get it cut off by the HADOPI. Hint: you will recognize the potential P2Per by his eyepatch and the parrot on his shoulder. Fire him before he gets you out from the internet!
- Justice is for n00bs. Terrorists and child molesters can not be identified using their IP address without the decision of the Judiciary. P2P users can. Judiciary got pwned!
More detailed explanation:
The HADOPI law is mainly defended by the French government and the lobbies of mass entertainement (Universal and the like). Apart from these people and those who don't care (mainly because they don't know the real dangers of this law - never really explained in mass media, since the mass media players are the same as the entertainment industry guys, and therefore supporters of the law), almost everyone know that this future law will be (1) inefficient (2) dangerous for individual liberty (3) already outdated by technology. But as usual since the election of President Sarkozy, the government does not care about what people say, especially when it's clever.
How does the HADOPI system work ?
The HADOPI law punishes you for having your IP address identified as downloading copyrighted contents on peer-to-peer networks, without paying for it.
The first flaw is the law is that the IP address is not a reliable data. The Pirate Bay has been dispatching random IP addresses on its trackers for several months in order to prove the inaccuracy of such a proof. In the US, some guys even managed to have the IP address of a printer caught for downloading stuff on a P2P network. But nevermind, the Government doesn't care about this detail.
In order to identify IP addresses, the HADOPI will rely on the collaboration of ISPs. They will allow the HADOPI to know when a copyrighted contents is being downloaded (which means getting into private feeds of datas) and put a name on an IP address. Prior to the HADOPI law, only the Police or a Tribunal was able to order an ISP to give the name of a person based on one's IP address. With the HADOPI, this won't be needed anymore.
What if your Wi-Fi has been hacked by your neighbour and he downloaded the latest Celine Dion album ? Well that's your problem, you should watch your Wi-Fi better, says the Government.
The fake IP and the hacked Wi-Fi both mean that you can be punished without having downloading any single file. In order to prevent this from happening, the Government has found a magical way : you will have to install a spyware (that you'll have to pay for and which will most likely not be compatible with opensource OS) that will be connected 24/7 to a central server of the HADOPI. The datas collected by the spyware will allow you to prove that you are innocent, be you mistakingly caught for downloading copyrighted contents.
Now about the punishment. The punishment has 3 levels. For the first offense an e-mail warning will be sent to the person identified as the owner of the internet access used for downloading. For the second offense a certified warning letter will arrive in the mail. For the third offense the Internet connection of the offending user will be cut for a duration between 1 month and 1 year. The punished user will continue to pay his internet access, and will be prevented from subscribing from another ISP by the addition of his name on a centralized black-list.
This means that a whole family could be deprived of internet access (which means : e-mail, e-shopping, e-administration, e-learning, e-information, e-whatever-you-want), just because the rebel teenager has been downloading some stuff and has not stopped when the parents told him to do so after having received the 2 warning messages. No more Wikipedia. No more Amazon. No more eBay. No more Google. No more Flickr. For up to 1 year. And don't forget the culprit is maybe not even in your home : it can be your neighbour, or even a Chinese or Russian robot sending your IP address on P2P tracker lists.
Going one step further, some people think that the Government does not really care about the entertainment industry, and is just using this purpose as a Trojan to get the (French) internet under control. After all, once the HADOPI is created and given its tools to identify persons from their IP addresses without the need of an independant judge, what will prevent it from tracking more than just kids downloading music and films?