Over the last few months, I wrote two letters to NZ members of parliament, one about the proposed review of the science of climate change, the second concerning the s92a amendment to the NZ Copyright Act. On Wednesday, I got responses to both. Here’s my comments:
The letter concerning climate change was sent to John Key and responded to by Nick Smith, Minister for Climate Change Issues. I’ve posted it here if you want to take a look. There are a few things I want to highlight:
The letter concerning s92a went to my local MP, Lianne Dalziel. It got forwarded to Clare Curran, Labour’s Spokesperson for Communication and IT, who sent me this response. I wasn’t terribly satisfied. It completely failed to address the threat posed by guilt by accusation to a democracy, let alone the impact on individuals, or the potential for abuse of such policies and the potential chilling effects on fair use. Instead, it talked about “unreasonable burden[s] on internet service providers“. I’m certain that they can take care of themselves.
Isn’t the idea of democratic government that it’s for the people? Isn’t Labour NZ’s main center left party? How does turning this from a significant issue of freedom of expression, cultural development and longevity, and corporatism serve the people? The problem with Section 92a is not that it places a burden on telecommunications providers, but that it provides a mechanism by which powerful entities (such as content publishers and any other corporation) can oppress individuals who publish content that they disagree with. You might think we’re just talking about music piracy, and that this will never be seriously abused, and you’d be wrong – look at the host of abuses of the DMCA in the US. Sure, there’s definitely a place for copyright protection measures, but some balance is definitely in order, and the issue of piracy is a lot more complex than that of simple theft.