Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Appealing to my MP to oppose the DE bill

                                        Tuesday 16 March 2010

Dear Sadiq Khan,

I am a published technical author, software developer and interaction
designer with a family - my wife, a freelance accountant, and a four
year old son, Johnny.

I am deeply concerned by the disconnection provisions of the Digital
Economy Bill, which it appears is about to be waved through the house
of commons in a sadly undemocratic "washing up" process.

Both my salaried work and my writings depend critically on having a
full bandwidth internet access, for example when I remotely access my
work desktop from home.

My wife's livelihood as an accountant also depends being able to send
and receive both reports and (occasionally substantial) databases of
financial records.

As an immigrant, she would also suffer a loss of family connection if
she could no longer use video skype to talk to her elderly and
otherwise inaccessible parents.

And Johnny is an enthusiastic on-line follower of the BBC's finest
children's programmes and games, such as "AlphaBlocks" (which is
helping him learn to read) and "Relic: Guardians of the Museum" which
so interested him in the British Museum that I had to take him to see
the Egyptian galleries last Saturday.

The prospect of losing these essential services to an automated process
without judicial appeal is frankly terrifying.

As a software professional, I can tell you that my PCs at home are as
secure as I can make them while staying on-line, but even so I have no
idea if anyone has installed illegal file-sharing software, or if
anyone is making illegal use of legal file-sharing software (such as
the first version of the BBC iPlayer, which I didn't even realise at
the time was a file-sharing server as well as client).

You have a strong record of opposing terrorism. You must be aware that
bad people can be inventive and persistent. It seems to me that the
possibilities that such a process of automated disconnection can raise
are endless.

What is to stop political hackers targeting political opponents? Will
you - as an MP - have any special right to appeal against disconnection
that would be denied to others whose jobs are equally depend on

Think about the commercial world. We already have well-established
cases of click-fraud (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud) being
used to "to harm a competitor who advertises in the same market by
clicking on their ads. The perpetrators do not profit directly but
force the advertiser to pay for irrelevant clicks, thus weakening or
eliminating a source of competition". Will people who are willing to
commit click-fraud hesitate to target the offices of their competitors
with fraudulent copyright fraud allegations?

And finally, consider the implications of legitimising collective
punishment. Other countries believe in bulldozing the houses of people
whose family member are believed to have committed terrorist acts.
Maybe we could take the middle road, and simply disconnect the families
of licence tax dodgers from power, water and sewage?

The music business didn't die from home taping (whatever they said at
the time) and they won't die from on-line copying. Only our liberties
are at serious risk here.

Yours sincerely,

Francis Norton.

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