Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Thought Police on the Internet

File Sharing – Internet Shoplifting – A Question of Scale

It is difficult to sort the distortions from the outright lies from the statistical interpretations from the paranoid delusions from simple bullying power “you-will-obey-me”, in the file-sharing and internet censorship debates.

This week a UK court banned a long established film file-sharing website, requiring the website hosts or Internet Service Providers (ISP) to shut it down. Hollywood celebrates - impoverished youths, the odd shoplifter and penniless adults mourn. The victory for censorship is immediately followed up with strident calls to require all ISPs to censor content – pornography, violence, civil unrest, music swapping, sexism, dwarfism, chavism, personal insults, racial abuse, anti-Chinese Government content, criticism of UK.Gov, identifying idiot-gaps in USA fire-walls, Jeremy Hunt’ism, abortion advice, Evolution-Theory, free-encyclopaedias that bankrupt honest publishers, free tuition in hundreds of subjects – stealing students from college courses, medical-self-diagnoses, radical tweets and twitters calling for change, copying media reports - and so on – the list of would-be complaining censors is endless.

The main arguments for censorship are that file-swapping is stealing expensive content and will ruin the entertainment industry – and that vulnerable people must be protected from things they should not see, hear or speak. But, printed comics, magazines and books were for hundreds of years, and still are, swapped extensively without ruining the publishing industry. Kids copy music and give it to friends – as they always have done – yet the music recording industry is thriving and millionaire stars are in the ascendant. The creative-content industries have not shown that file-sharing damages their revenues; they would be only too happy to pay millions for campaigns to publicise their wares as widely as file-sharing does. Case not proven.

SINS - Schoolboys have shared grubby pornography since Adam – and posh, quality pornography adorns the walls of most stately homes, art galleries and glossy magazine covers; as it always has. These irreligious, sticky-handed “sins” cannot be blamed on the Internet. I blame the kids’, particularly the male kids’ deoxyribonucleic acid and their parents – and grandparents and all their heavy-breathing progenitors. Nubile females have danced, dressed, flirted and writhed provocatively since the beginning of time – the internet is not to blame for human sexuality. Maybe it is the intelligent designer who got it wrong. Horrifying weapons have been made, copied and used in terrible wars since Cain and Abel – the internet reflects the innate primitive human urge to maim and destroy to get what we want. Sins of violence are inherent and have traditionally been punished only when acted out. The internet thought-police are blundering into confusing fantasy with reality.

Obsessive surveillance and censorship of Internet content will lead to an alternative system being created that circumvents all “authorities”. Today’s youngsters, almost wholly disengaged from the old laws, business and politics, will go their own way.

1st May 2012.

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