eG8 and Internet Control Points

The week has seen a number of developments that highlight the growing conflict between those with vested interests in centralised control of the web and those who believe control points are a form of defect.  Let's let some links provide...

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The week has seen a number of developments that highlight the growing conflict between those with vested interests in centralised control of the web and those who believe control points are a form of defect.  Let's let some links provide context:
  • Hargreaves Report calls for overhaul of UK copyright law
    The report on the state of copyright law in the UK that was published recently was by no means the work of a progressive. For example, it makes almost no mention of the "social contract" behind copyright, where society trades temporary monopoly in exchange for public domain availability at the end of the monopoly. But still it finds that the law surrounding copyright is way overdue for reform.
  • Copyright policy based largely on "lobbynomics," not data
    That same report has some stark conclusions about the state of that reform agenda. First it strongly asserts that current policy is being driven by media industry lobbyists rather than solid, impartial research. Second it casts severe doubt on the Digital Economy Act - Hargreaves refers to it saying it exemplifies "the environment in which copyright policy is made".
  • US Senate backs anti-piracy bill targeting foreign sites
    That's the lobbyist-sponsored PROTECTIP Act, supported by both US parties and rushed into law, yet widely criticised by people who actually understand the Internet. It was passed by the Senate yesterday. It exploits the heirarchical nature of the Domain Name System (DNS) - the thing that converts textual web addresses into numbers your computer can understand - to take offline domain names accused of being in some way illegal.
  • Google's Eric Schmidt clashes with Nicolas Sarkozy at eG8
    The G8 Summit was preceded by an "eG8" gathering, with the goal of discussing "the importance of the role that the Internet now plays in our personal as well as our professional lives, and the opportunities but also the challenges that the network represents for our societies, our economies and our cultures". This is remarkably close to the mission of WSIS, but unlike WSIS a vital set of stakeholders - civil society - was not included. That led to a wide range of civil society bodies (including OSI where I'm a director) sending an open letter calling for civil society input and holding a press conference
  • At the eG8, 20th century ideas clashed with the 21st century economy
    Ultimately, the eG8 can be effectively summarised as a point of conflict between the 20th century way of going business - exploiting control points as a way of creating the scarcity that permits business - and the 21st century approach - servicing natural scarcities that exists transparently in an open meshed society. A desire by the well-resourced defenders of the old to inhibit the lively but poorly-represented pioneers of the new is at the heart of the conflict.
  • DNS filtering: absolutely the wrong way to defend copyrights
    So with all this political churn, is DNS filtering an appropriate control point for the government to use?  This article explains why not.
  • Welcome to the Dot-BIT project
    This project, based on the distributed online currency system Bitcoin, aims to implement a secure DNS that has no points of control. We need this sort of distributed infrastructure so that the control points simply aren't there to be abused.
Note that I am not an advocate of world where no-one respects anyone else's rights. For example, I prefer to simply avoid music and movies that I am only able to access illegally. But the unvarnished reptilian selfishness of the music industry et al is pushing the copyright agenda too far away from the interests of society. That could seriously impact the dynamics of the emerging, connected economy by for example chilling open source development, criminalising competitors to established businesses and robbing citizens of the tools to maintain both transparency and privacy.
 
If populist calls to "think of the artist" remain unbalanced by actual facts and society's needs, politicians will continue to abuse the (few) control points in the web's infrastructure to expediently deliver only what the old guard demands. While political action is good to counter this, the practical step of removing the control points is also good. So, welcome NameCoin, I'm keen to give you a try.



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