Today is a sad day for Internet users in New Zealand as the country’s long-delayed ‘three-strikes’ law takes effect in that country.
New Zealand enacted ‘three-strikes’ legislation this past April after several years of ill-fated attempts. The law allows for fines of up to NZ$15,000 ($12,000) and Internet account suspensions for up to six months.
The law takes effect despite a UN report that concluded disconnecting Internet users, ‘regardless of the justification provided,’ is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because it limits the type of media individuals are allowed to use to express themselves.
UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue said that he was ‘alarmed’ by ‘disproportionate’ Internet disconnection proposals, and that individuals should never have their Internet access terminated for any reason, including copyright infringement.
Following that report, the opposition Labour Party, which had originally voted in favor of the legislation, said it agreed with La Rue’s assessment that Internet disconnection violates international law, and called for a ‘complete review’ of New Zealand’s copyright laws.
It reiterated its opposition to Internet disconnection in a recent press release, vowing to introduce a Bill within 90 days to remove the ‘termination clauses’ from the Copyright Act; it promises to introduce a new Bill within 18 months to ‘update’ and ‘extend’ digital copyright laws that won’t disconnect copyright infringers.
‘Termination is unsustainable,’ said Clare Curran, Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson. ‘Labour voted for the Bill in April because we stuck by a commitment to work with the Government to enable Internet service providers and rights holders to reach a compromise on copyright law.’
‘That compromise meant that termination of Internet access as an ultimate penalty for repeat copyright infringement remained in the Bill, but could not be enacted without the consent of the Minister, but it is clear that this won’t work long-term.’
She said the real debate is about shifting power, access to information, out-dated business models, and the immense potential of the Internet to change the world as we know it.
‘These solutions are, of course, bigger than simply tinkering with a single section of the Copyright Act,’ added. ‘That’s why Labour will review the whole Act with a view to encouraging new business models to emerge which will distribute digital content easily and affordably.
‘It’s a fundamental principle to ensure that the work of Kiwi creators is valued and that they can maintain control over their own works. The old business models — by which the distribution of creative works was controlled by big companies — have gone.
She’s right, and that’s what they whole fight has been about: prying loose old distribution models and democratizing them. For the first time artists can disseminate their works to the entire world on their own terms, and individuals can likewise access creative works on a scale that was for most of man’s existence unimaginable.
‘Citizens everywhere are hungry for information and creative material via the digital environment. It is absolutely essential we get the balance right,’ Curran said.
NZ – New Zealand filters the 'Net(Ars Technica)
New Zealand’s government-run Internet filtering system is now running, and two ISPs are already using the system. Seven thousand websites are on the list, most dealing with child sexual abuse, bestiality, and other illegal content, as classified by the country’s official censors. ISP participation remains voluntary. Currently, Maxnet and Watchdog are confirmed to be using the filter, though other ISPs are said to be interested. The filter uses a BSD Unix-based appliance called WhiteBox from Swedish company Netclean. The government runs the filtering server and maintains the blocklist, which it advertises to ISPs using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Because an IP address can host many domains, requests to blocked IP addresses are analyzed by the WhiteBox using deep packet inspection, rather than being blocked outright. If the requests are for non-problematic URLs, they are forwarded on; if they go to a banned site or link, they are blocked, the user’s IP address is logged, and a block message appears on the screen.
(Via QuickLinks Update.)
NZ – Web filter will focus solely on child sex abuse images: “(Press release)
A filtering system to block websites that host child sexual abuse images will be available voluntarily to New Zealand internet service providers (ISPs) within a couple of months, Internal Affairs Deputy Secretary, Keith Manch, said today. The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, funded with $150,000, will be operated by the Department in partnership with ISPs, and will focus solely on websites offering clearly objectionable images of child sexual abuse, which is a serious offence for anyone in New Zealand to access. The Department has entered into a partnership with ECPAT New Zealand, part of a global organisation the purpose of which is the elimination of child prostitution and pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes. ‘ECPAT is operating a hotline through its website so that members of the public can report suspect sites, not already identified by the Department.’ see also NZ Internet Filtering FAQ by Thomas Beagle.
(Via QuickLinks Update.)
New Zealand has temporarily abandoned its plans to enact a French-style ‘three-strikes’ internet policy that forces ISPs to disconnect customers repeatedly accused of illegally downloading copyrighted materials.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
New Zealand pulls back from guilt-by-accusation piracy law: “The New Zealand government has delayed by a month a controversial plan to allow internet users to be cut off just because they have been accused of copyright infringement.”
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Three Strikes on Hold in New Zealand: “Those living in New Zealand can breathe a bit easier today, as the controversial ‘three strikes’ P2P policy is currently on hold. The measure is designed to intimidate alleged P2P pirates with the threat that their internet connections will be permanently disconnected after three warnings.”
Post from: TorrentFreak
Scheduled for introduction at the end of February 2009, Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act 2008 is causing concern for many in New Zealand, with the threat of Internet disconnection for those accused of sharing copyright works looming large. The Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF) has declared that its members believe that Section 92 ‘is seriously flawed’ but nevertheless has just released a draft of its ISP Copyright Code of Practice for public consultation.
‘The Copyright Act was amended in 2008 to include s92A which requires Internet Service Providers to have a policy to terminate the accounts of repeat copyright infringers in appropriate circumstances,’ said TCF CEO Ralph Chivers. ‘This Draft Code is intended to be a template policy for ISPs, to assist them in meeting their obligations under the Act.’
The draft has been created by a group of New Zealand’s largest ISPs, the Internet Service Providers Association of New Zealand (ISPANZ) and Internet NZ, with input from the entertainment industries. It puts some much-needed ‘meat-on-the-bones’ of how allegations of infringement under Section 92 could be handled in practice, along with clarification of what would constitute someone being labeled as a ‘repeat infringer’ for example.
This is how TCF propose that part of the system will work. First off, a copyright holder would identify an infringement and notify the ISP of the infringing customer immediately. The ISP would check to ensure that the complaint meets the standards required by the draft code and ensure that the evidence provided would be of such a quality that it would stand up in court. If it does not meet the standards, it will be returned to the copyright holder. If it is discovered that the copyright holder hasn’t already been ‘pre-approved’ to participate in the scheme, they are given the opportunity to join by paying a fee. The claim is then processed.
At this point the ISP checks to see if the customer has already been complained about. If they have received less than two complaints already, they receive what is known as an ‘Education Notice’. If they have received two of such notices, the ISP well then active the ‘Termination Process’. In either event, the copyright holder is notified of the action taken.
The definition of a ‘Repeat Infringer’ (and one who will be disconnected) is an Internet user who has received three Education Notices in any given 18 month period. Education Notices expire 18 months after being issued, effectively giving the user a clean sheet again.
There are also systems proposed for dealing with the actual termination of a customer’s ISP account, with provisions for taking extra caution over so-called ‘Vulnerable Customers’ (someone ‘who for reasons of health, disability or safety, or that of a member of their household, is reliant on their Internet Account’) and ‘Essential Service Providers’ (a ‘person who requires their Internet Account in order to deliver an essential service referred to in Part A of Schedule 1 of the Employment Relations Act 2000‘)
Customers accused of infringement will also have the right to dispute the allegations made against them and the draft details the procedure clearly.
The draft Internet Service Provider (ISP) Copyright Code of Practice is available for viewing here. Submissions to the draft should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to: Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum, PO Box 302469, North Harbour, Auckland.
The closing date for submissions is 5pm, Friday 6th March 2009.
If you thought that net filtering and grandiose firewalls were the exclusive preserve of West Island (or ‘Australia’, as the locals like to call it), think again. New Zealand is showing that it, too, is ready to play its part in the great Antipodean censorship stakes.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
NZ – Filter to prevent access to child porn sites: “(Radio New Zealand)
The Department of Internal Affairs is setting up a filter system that will allow internet service providers to stop people accessing child pornography. But there are concerns that the power to censor browsing could be abused. The filter system has already been trialled in hundreds of thousands of New Zealand households. Internal Affairs deputy secretary Keith Manch says the voluntary system blocks access to 7000 websites carrying images of child sexual abuse. Internet Safety group NetSafe welcomes the move, but says there could be concerns if the department later uses the filter to block a wider variety of websites. Mr Manch says there are no such plans and the filter is only for targeting the sexual abuse of children. He says the department is finalising its analysis from the trial and will be discussing with internet providers how to impelement the system.”
(Via QuickLinks Update.)
Post from: TorrentFreak
The term ‘3 Strikes’ is a familiar one to those monitoring attempts to crack down on illicit file-sharing. Many countries are looking at proposals which if implemented, would mean that a ‘graduated response’ is taken against those accused of online copyright infringement. ‘Strike One’ would earn the infringer a warning, ‘Strike Two’ would result in a slowing of the user’s Internet connection, with Internet disconnection proposed on a third accusation.
However draconian these proposals might appear, they are nothing compared to the proposed ‘Section 92′ of the Copyright Amendment Act in New Zealand. Scheduled for introduction at the end of February 2009, the act assumes that any individual simply accused of sharing copyright works on the Internet, is guilty. The punishment for ‘guilty’ is summary disconnection from the Internet. Understandably, this proposal hasn’t been well received by many outside of the entertainment industries. Indeed, RIANZ, New Zealand’s answer to the RIAA, has been a vocal supporter.
One group voicing dissent is The Creative Freedom Foundation. On January 2nd the group launched with the aim to ‘unite artists who are against the removal of New Zealander’s rights through proposed changes in Copyright law, done in the name of protecting creativity.’
Foundation Co-Founder and Director, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is strongly opposed to Section 92, which she says threatens Internet disconnections ‘without evidence or even a trial.’
‘The result of this law could be that one rogue employee or even one virus infected computer could bring down a whole organization’s internet and it’s highly likely that schools, businesses, hospitals, and phone services will be harmed by this,’ she said.
Hollyway-Smith warns that as the government has shown support for the bill, unless there is a major public protest against it the proposals will ‘roll over into law’ – just 54 days from now. To this end, the foundation has started a petition and campaign against the ‘Guilt Upon Accusation’ laws, called ‘Not in my Name’. The petition can be signed on the Creative Freedom Federation website.