| Thursday July 24th 2014

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Why “cutting people off” online because a record exec says they’re file-sharers is dumb


The British ISP TalkTalk has produced a compelling case against the government’s plans to disconnect whole households from the Internet if the copyright industry accuses them — without proving anything in court — of three acts of infringement. RIAA  logoTalkTalk picked a random street in North London and showed that 23 of the households in that road were using WEP security to stop strangers from accessing their networks. WEP has been thoroughly broken for years, but many older games consoles, phones and other devices are only capable of using WEP to connect to WiFi networks. TalkTalk argues that householders who have done everything they can to secure their networks from people who want to use them for cover during illegal file-sharing are still vulnerable to being disconnected by record- and film-company execs.


Households that are subjected to this form of collective punishment — “someone around here broke the law, so you’ll all suffer” — lose access to the net, and with it, connectivity related to their employment, education, family connections, health, and government. All on the unsubstantiated say-so of the same entertainment companies that have previously accused a laser-printer of illegally downloading an Indiana Jones movie, not to mention the small legion of dead people; ancient, non-computer-owning grannies; and other innocents who’ve been legally threatened by the music industry for alleged copyright infringement.

A rep from the record industry insists that he has bought some magic beans “robust” evidence-gathering software that will never, ever cut someone off from the Internet on false pretences, so we don’t need judges or evidence or trials or any of that messy business. But, of course, if someone is hacking your WiFi without your knowledge, he’s prepared to cut you off from the Internet, because “the responsibility for ensuring that an internet account shared throughout a household is not being used for illegal filesharing clearly lies with the account holder.”

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