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Ambiguity will lead to the innocent suffering alongside the guilty, argues report

TIME magazine's Matt Peckham has offered up a compelling argument on why the upcoming "six strikes" plan is fundamentally flawed.  "Six Strikes" is the term bandied about for the voluntary collaboration by internet service providers (ISPs) and big media groups like the Motion Picture Association of America to "educate" users on the "dangers" of piracy.

The proposal -- unlike past efforts like the failed SOPA -- does not involve the government.  And it does not involve internet "capital punishment" -- termination of paying customers.  But if customers are found pirating by MarkMonitor -- the group contracted by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) to filter ISP traffic looking for P2P streams with infringed IP -- ISPs will be liable to either slow users connections or force them to take "classes" to regain access to the connection.

The move is a win for ISPs; they'll likely be able to provide a lesser degree of service to many of their customers while claiming it's in the noble name of "intellectual property protection".  Reduced service means less bandwidth and data consumed, which in turn means cost savings, which in turn means more profit.

And big media is clinging to the notion that if it can just get some habitual pirates to abandon their foul ways, they'll instead turn to legally buying all sorts of content, triggering a golden age of media profits.

Of course there's little signs of that being the case -- pirates actually tend to already be the biggest buyers of legal content, so it seems relatively unlikely they'll buy more if forced to forgo their pirating.

Piracy Warning
Piracy warnings might sound good on paper, but a major issue is how to track the true offenders and who should be forced to pay for that tracking.

What's more, Mr. Peckham poses an intriguing scenario of why the current IPv4 based plan in simply too dumb to work.  He comments:

My condo complex (I'm an owner) has 48 units. It was built in 2003, so it's relatively new. At the time, the builders had the foresight to wire each unit with Ethernet — a drop in each room, everything connected back to aggregate wire closets. Near my front door (and all the front doors of all the units) is a mini-wire closet with a switch/hub that connects my unit to a central switch/hub in a locked room on the property.

That, in turn, plugs into a high-speed cable modem — a cable modem that's shared across all 48 units. We're technically shielded from each other using a special box that "firewalls" each private IP and can control how much bandwidth it's allocated, etc. Whether we elect to use it or pay for our own service instead, all 48 units have access to this shared Internet.

He argues that for business owners or owners of residential units (like himself), the plan will create a nightmarish scenario of new costs and enforcement responsibilities, in which ultimately the innocent may suffer along with the guilty.  He writes:
You can probably see where I'm headed. With "six strikes," any of the residents in the complex who — knowingly or unknowingly — engage in an act of copyright violation, could incur an alert. Who's going to see that alert? Probably me, as the technical contact for the ISP (that or our property management company, at which point it'll route back to me).

At this point I'm not sure what happens. The IP address MarkMonitor's software is going to see, presumably, is our public one, not the private address of the device that's been singled out on our condo complex's network. How do we identify the perpetrator? Should we identify the perpetrator? If our ISP says we're in violation, is it incumbent on us to run our own tracking software, somehow, to identify the person(s) involved? Are we supposed to somehow issue these warnings ourselves, since the ISP won't technically be able to?

See the problem? Who's responsible for each infraction? Who should be punished? The entire complex, by throttling or at some point terminating our Internet service? Each unit in the complex pays for shared Internet equally as part of our monthly association fees. We're not a business — there's no CEO. The few of us who manage the Internet on behalf of the rest can't act unilaterally to preempt potential infractions by blocking aspects of the service by introducing content filters the way a private company might.

He also takes the ISP/media union to task for failing to transparently disclose full details of the plan and how it will work.  He says the collaborators decision to force consumers to "reverse-engineer" their rights is a big "transparency issue".

The plan, as he points out, has been temporarily delayed by the CCI as the power outages from Hurricane Sandy set back the MarkMonitor's testing of the scheme on trial partner networks.

You're out
Hurricane Sandy temporarily delayed the "six-strikes" plan. [Image Source: Ed Zurga/AP]

But as the delayed system moves forward to rolling out in weeks to come, one has to wonder how many scenarios like the one Mr. Peckham laid out might occur.  If they do, the wrath will likely largely be shouldered by the ISP, and they may find themselves losing paying customers.

And when things reach that point one has to wonder whether the fragile union between the content hording big media and the service providers will be capable of surviving the financial friction.

Source: CNN

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We'll see how "voluntary" it is
By superstition on 12/4/2012 8:50:46 PM , Rating: 1
Ask anyone who supports Wikileaks about the "voluntary" nature of Joe Lieberman's campaign to get corporations (PayPal, Amazon, et cetera) to cut of its funding and operating channels.

100% compliance within the US, as far as I know. Now, you may not like Wikileaks for whatever reason, but it was never found guilty of any crime — so be careful about promoting the Lieberman method. Causes you care about in a positive way may be affected.

"Voluntary" regulation, such as pollution controls, rarely accomplishes anything for the public. However, when it comes to "voluntary" compliance with the security state, the results tend to be different:
Whatever one thinks of WikiLeaks, it is an indisputable fact that the group has never been charged by any government with any crime, let alone convicted of one. Despite that crucial fact, WikiLeaks has been crippled by a staggering array of extra-judicial punishment imposed either directly by the US and allied governments or with their clear acquiescence.

In December 2010, after WikiLeaks began publishing US diplomatic cables, it was hit with cyber-attacks so massive that the group was "forced to change its web address after the company providing its domain name cut off service". After public demands and private pressure from US Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, Amazon then cut off all hosting services to WikiLeaks. Sophisticated cyber-attacks shortly thereafter forced the group entirely off all US website services when its California-based internet hosting provider, Everydns, terminated service, "saying it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers of being affected by the intense cyber-attacks targeted at WikiLeaks".

Meanwhile, Chairman Lieberman's public pressure, by design, also led to the destruction of WikiLeaks' ability to collect funds from supporters. Master Card and Visa both announced they would refuse to process payments to the group, as did America's largest financial institution, Bank of America. Paypal not only did the same but froze all funds already in WikiLeaks' accounts (almost two years later, a court in Iceland ruled that a Visa payment processor violated contract law by cutting of those services). On several occasions in both 2011 and 2012, WikiLeaks was prevented from remaining online by cyber-attacks.

Over the past two years, then, this group - convicted of no crime but engaged in pathbreaking journalism that produced more scoops than all other media outlets combined and received numerous journalism awards - has been effectively prevented from functioning, receiving funds, or even maintaining a presence on US internet servers.

While it's unproven what direct role the US government played in these actions, it is unquestionably clear that a top US Senator successfully pressured private corporations to cut off its finances, and more important, neither the US nor its allies have taken any steps to discover and apprehend the perpetrators of the cyber-attacks that repeatedly targeted WikiLeaks, nor did it even investigate those attacks.

The ominous implications of all this have never been fully appreciated. Recall that all the way back in 2008, the Pentagon prepared a secret report (ultimately leaked to WikiLeaks) that decreed WikiLeaks to be a "threat to the US Army" and an enemy of the US. That report plotted tactics that "would damage and potentially destroy" its ability to function. That is exactly what came to pass.

So this was a case where the US government - through affirmative steps and/or approving acquiescence to criminal, sophisticated cyber-attacks - all but destroyed the ability of an adversarial group, convicted of no crime, to function on the internet.

RE: We'll see how "voluntary" it is
By OutOfTouch on 12/5/2012 11:54:22 PM , Rating: 3
Wikileaks is useless now. What happened with that hard drive from a Bank of America Exec. that had proof of BOA ripping people off? That information didn't get released because it didn't make the American government look foolish.

I don't agree with a lot of the things our government is doing, ok most of it, but Wikileaks lost all credibility when Assange turned it into an Anti-US Government publishing agency. That's all he wants to publish, forget about any other matters of importance.

By superstition on 12/6/2012 2:28:14 AM , Rating: 2
Wikileaks is useless now.

That was my point. Remember? I wrote about how successful Lieberman was (and the government he represents) in getting 100% compliance with a "voluntary" chilling campaign.
What happened with that hard drive from a Bank of America Exec. that had proof of BOA ripping people off?

That's an interesting question, one that's irrelevant to my point and quite a tangent from this article, but it is still interesting.

My understanding is that a right-winger infiltrated Wikileaks and got access to the BOA file. As far as I know it was in PDF form. He deleted it and then published a book in which he bragged about that.
That information didn't get released because it didn't make the American government look foolish.

That seems like wild ad hominem speculation because it contradicts my understanding of the situation, which I believe is rooted in fact. It also fits with the general ad hominem character of your post.
I don't agree with a lot of the things our government is doing, ok most of it,

And based on this disagreement, you'll take what stance toward whistleblowing and leaking?

Ah... here it comes.
Wikileaks lost all credibility when Assange turned it into an Anti-US Government publishing agency.

That only makes sense for someone who is a blind nationalist.
That's all he wants to publish, forget about any other matters of importance.

That's a pretty silly criticism. It's like saying "That guy has no credibility because he keeps trying to hold my friend accountable for murdering his wife." So, we're supposed to not be bothered by the fact that the guy is a murderer who is free because he's your friend?

That is what we call rote blind nationalism at its worst. Even if it were true, that Wikileaks has a grudge against the US, the US government clearly has a grudge against Wikileaks. Ask yourself who wins when Wikileaks is silenced. Ask yourself who wins when Joe Lieberman establishes such a chilling precedent against an organization and process that is not illegal.

Or, you can resort to ad hominem and similarly ineffectual complaints.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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