A Discussion on the State of the Net

I’m somewhat leery of the direction that Canada is taking as far the Web goes. I spent some more time reading over the proposed legislation that the Conservatives want to desperately push through Parliament to appease the business world, called Bill C-61, or the Copyright Act. I did this because I heard some more news that most Canadian Internet Service Providers (I.S.P.) are already jumping on board with gearing up their systems to facilitate the new, soon to be coming, laws targeting the Intranet User.  I think it is inevitable that Canada is shifting towards the right end of the political spectrum–and most of us are still believing that we are in our protected bubble of freedoms.

According to a CBC news story called “Copyright law could result in police state: critics,” some people are very freaked out about the whole issues of on-line privacy that maybe taken away (dumbed-down) to facilitate law enforcement to search out and capture users who are violating copyright material.  It would be ironic that the very people who value privacy are going to vote for a government that will allow itself to gain access to your every move on the Internet. At least now, ISPs are resistant to surrendering this data because of the agreements they made with their customers to protect privacy; however, right wing governments are more “law and order” oriented, and passing laws that allow for easier access into its citizens activities for law enforcement is a small sacrifice to give up in the betterment of society as a whole. After all, everyone feels that crime is always on the increase, and catching criminals is more important than our personal rights….

So back on Thursday, in my Criminology class, we talked about the state of the Intranet, and how and why it is changing. I notice that most of the students in my class were very unaware of how far reaching this piece of legislation is. It was determined that almost everyone in the class has downloaded music from off of the net. Most said that they have large amounts of music on their lap tops and that they did not buy the music, but downloaded it from sources such a peer to peer and chat groups. According to the Act, Bill C-61, there could be possible criminal charges if found guilty with “pirated” music on anyone’s electronic storage devices. There was a sobering silence in the air once the discussion moved towards the finer details of the Act.

Next in the discussion was the software licence agreements and the proliferation of illegally installed software loaded into personal computing devices.  One estimate that the instructor said was that are possibly over 40 million personal computers with pirated operating systems running throughout North America. So my question was why do people do this when there are alternatives available that are free, without (restricted) licence agreements and perpetual costs? Again, the  silence sweeps over the classroom.

Two things came out of this class discussion for me. First, I have notice small differences in my ISP’s services already.  Second, I heard that companies like Shaw Cable are going to be sending out attachments with their Bills soon that will rewrite their agreements with their clients regarding the new measures to the Act.

So what do you think? Oh, and be careful what you say from now on—they’re listening.

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