My Blog: “ACTA is a blessing in disguise for UK PLC”. Run that by me again … cc @_AskTheExperts_ @_JayMcGregor

I have some issues with the idea that “ACTA is a blessing in disguise for UK PLC” as stated in this article.

Let me go through it in my usual style:

From the article:
The World is on the brink of changing the landscape of Internet communication freedom, and, as many agree, much for the worse.

Well, for the docile legislation drone countries anyway. For us Brits however, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement currently trailblazing its way over the face of the planet leaving behind scorched earth with little public discourse offers the UK a unique opportunity to be the Cayman Islands of the digital world.

The UK has signed ACTA and has shown very few signs it will not ratify it. Anti-ACTA demonstration in the UK on 11/2 and 25/2 where muted compared to the rest of mainland Europe. Arguably that lumps the UK as a “docile legislation drone countries”.  The UK is part of the EU and unlike the Cayman Islands, is subject to EU acquis.

Censorship is a contentious topic. In some cases, like age restrictions on adult material, it’s necessary. In others, like restricting free discussion in chat rooms in Communist China, it’s not. Censorship should always be the subject of common sense, it should not be the plaything of the rich and powerful who are more concerned with protecting their interests.

This is exactly what’s happening in the United States at the moment with the ACTA, powerful conglomerates (mainly in the music and film industry) have spent two years and a significant amount of money lobbying politicians to fortify copyright law. And they’ve succeeded. Big corporations are quite adept at penetrating the political process and know exactly how much re-election donation lubricant is needed to help smooth the deal through.

That is exactly what is also happening in the UK with DEA, CCDP, and other legislation both home-grown and enacted by the EU, of which the UK is a member and which the UK will have to obey.

If the agreement comes into force it puts a lot of countries in a precarious position, mainly the US because certain law makers already attempted to push through the now defunct SOPA. By appeasing the entertainment industry, they will be slighting many Internet start-ups. An impressive list of wide ranging opponents have signed a letter or spoken out against the act.

That is the wrong way around. The other countries (sans US) are in a precarious position because ACTA exports worst of US copyright law.

The brat pack of the entertainment industry, and arguably the future of the American economy, will have been completely ignored in favour of a powerful lobby. Companies like YouTube and Wikipedia would have struggled under the new legislation and similarly new companies like SoundCloud and Vimeo could be strangled out of the market before they get a chance to flourish.

This is bad news for the US, but it’s not all doom and gloom for the UK. The UK has an opportunity to position itself as an Internet friendly island ready and waiting with open arms to accept scorned Internet start-ups from across the Atlantic. But this needs to be done properly, we’re not a haven for every seedy underhanded website operating illegally over the net, no, we’re simply a proponent of Internet freedom.

The UK is a physical island. It has an opportunity, yet, as the proposed changes to UK and EU legislation indicates, it is definatly NOT positioning itself as “an Internet friendly island ready and waiting with open arms to accept scorned Internet start-ups from across the Atlantic“. I would argue it is falling in line with US wishes [so no change there for the UK]. The UK is quite defiantly not a proponent of Internet freedom based on the evidence of proposed and enacted UK legislation.

Cameron and co talk of ‘Britain being open for business’ and ‘investing in the future’ this a chance to do that. Our international reputation as a scientific thought leader is eroding and as our financial institutions crumble we’re scrambling to figure what it is that we’re good at – something that’s good enough to be exported. Ideas should be the answer. Multi-billion dollar Internet start-ups like Facebook, Linkedin and Wikipedia are companies that would fit well with the UK’s ideology.

Talk is cheap. Cameron may say one thing, but I’m afraid his coalition governments’ actions tell us something completely different.

What about the Digital Economy Act rushed through Parliament in the dying days of the last Labour government I hear your cry. Well, what about it. The act is much more specific than the broad ACTA. If someone is suspected of downloading illegal copyrighted material, they are told, in a typically British way, to stop – three times – and if they don’t they might have their connection cut or stripped down to a slower speed. All of which under the watchful eye of an extensive appeal process.

Also, the act is currently languishing in Brussels waiting for the European Commission to approve changes. Similarly, Ofcom, the architects of the intricacies of the act, simply haven’t drawn up plans of what the rules are and how they would be enforced. Compare this to the ACTA where entire websites will be shut down because small numbers of users may be swapping or uploading copyrighted material and you have two very different pictures.

Dismissing the DEA shows a distinct lack of understanding of what DEA could mean, this may help. Entire websites can already be shut down in the UK, and they have been. Additionally, if you think .com, .net, .org sites hosted in the UK are free from extra-UK jurisdiction, this from Micheal Geist may dispel that erroneous notion.

The UK’s very own silicone valley over in East London is building a reputation for itself and, with a little bit of encouragement and across the Atlantic investment, it could rival the original. Seducing some key players from the US could be just what is needed to restore this nation’s ingenuity credentials.

I’d like examples of this UK silicone valley. I guess it could rival the original just as I could win the lottery one day.  What is needed are reasons why key players would want to exit the US and base themselves in the UK. I would suggest the author write a list.

I’m trying not to chuckle too much at this article a site called asktheexperts.org.uk, I think if I had a Fail-of-the-Day award, Jay McGregor and asktheexperts.org.uk would be recieving it today.

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