Digital rights and access under assault

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of access you want, or what you want access to. You’re under assault, plain and simple. With the news last week that Bell and Telus customers will pay at both ends for text messages and the obscene Rogers iPhone rate packages, we just have two more issues to deal with on this front.

Ed. Note: It should be noted that since I started jotting down notes for this post, Rogers has improved their data packages, but only for a two month promotional offer and not to the point where the prices aren’t still ridiculously high.

Reusing a legally purchased song on multiple personal devices, saving a recorded program for private viewing later, or even embedding a copyrighted video for comment on your blog could all land you in trouble if C-61 passes in the fall. Mind you, cellular rate plan issues are part of a much larger problem that includes throttling. Web companies understand the implications to their businesses. Throttling is mostly related to large bandwidth activities like torrenting, and would seem to be moving in lockstep with copyright issues. After all, making it illegal to possess something is more effective if you choke the ability to get it in the first place.

If all this isn’t enough, Canada’s complicity in ACTA will ensure that your digital equipment can be confiscated due to nothing more than an over-zealous border guard. Whether you got it back or not, it may well not include what you originally had on it. Plus, it would seem a Biker-chick lovin’ industry minister did a did a better job standing up for our rights than the current one. Mind you, today Jim Prentice did call out for Telus and Bell to justify their messaging grab.

That’s likely to really make a REAL difference.  anada already has some of the highest wireless rates in the world. And, we have a government who is:

  • moving toward a complete lockdown on how we use our digital media
  • in lockstep with US government and big business marching orders
  • trying to kill innovation by (perhaps unwittingly) supporting walled gardens and closed source intellectual property
  • helping create a digital divide by allowing the high cost of access to continue unabated

The Harper government seems completely oblivious to the shit-storm C-61 and ACTA are causing, or perhaps they simply don’t care. All we can hope for is that cooler heads will prevail in the fall session of the Commons, or opposition parties will act in unison and defeat C-61 if it goes ahead as currently proposed. I know it’s on the radar of the NDP, based on canned email responses I’ve received from Jack Layton. Unfortunately, they’re not in a position to do much on their own and the federal Liberals have been silent enough on these issues that one could be forgiven for thinking they’re simply unequipped to formulate a position on that. Then again, it takes a lot of energy to focus singularly on a carbon tax.

Regardless of where C-61 or ACTA land, in truth the problem is lack of transparency and the Canadian government’s lack of public consultation on federal legislation and an international treaty framework.

Harper’s a guy who claims to want less government intrusion in the lives of ordinary citizens. That is, I guess, unless personal freedoms distract from his core goal – keeping his Bush administration and business buddies happy.

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