Tim Berners-Lee Says “Six Strikes” Threatens Democracy

    March 13, 2013
    Zach Walton
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It’s been a few weeks since the launch of the “Six Strikes” Copyright Alert System. There haven’t been any widespread reports of people receiving copyright alerts yet, but the programs opponents are growing. In fact, opponents now have a powerful man on their side – the father of the Internet.

Marketplace interviewed Tim Berners-Lee at SXSW Interactive, and the Internet freedom proponent had some choice words for programs, like the Copyright Alert System, that attempt to police the Internet.

The World Wide Web should be a blank sheet of paper. The Internet service providers, their duty is to get me bits. Bits in, bits out. If the police want to come and arrest me for doing something illegal, then the police have to come. But it’s not the job of an Internet service provider to be, in this case, not just the police, but then also the judge and the jury.

Berners-Lee’s concern is similar to previous statements made by public figures that have come out against the controversial CAS program. New Jersey Gubernatorial candidate Carl Bergmanson was quoted last month as saying “ISPs have no right to decide what you can and can not download.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Berners-Lee says that the Copyright Alert System and similar programs threaten the open Internet and democracy as a whole:

To start with, for business, you really use the Internet to produce an open market. And perhaps more dear to me for the future, is democracy. We need to be able to find ways of governing ourselves in peace. We need to be able to find ways of coming to agreements with people in other countries, in other cultures, about what we are going to do with our planet and how we are going to solve global warming. For that, we need a very strong democracy. Democracy involves people being informed, being able to communicate, being able to hold each other accountable. And all that absolutely depends on the neutral Internet.

The FCC, the agency in charge of creating net neutrality rules for the U.S., has stayed remarkably quiet during the debate over the Copyright Alert System. Their silence can only mean that the Commission supports the program for now, but it will be interesting to see what the Commission does if the CAS starts to target innocent Internet users.

  • http://www.camposc.net Yolanda Campos Campos

    I totally agree with Tim. Humans we will walk towards the freedom to be happy, the free internet is a great support in that way.

  • Tymon

    No arguments to you Tim. The copyright alert system completely lacks any oversight. The burden of proof falls upon the accused, and it is a guilty until proven innocent system. Not to mention, it’s far too easy to get ‘strikes’ when you did absolutely nothing wrong to begin with. There is no such thing as a secure wireless network anymore.

    • Tymon

      Also, The CAS has ALREADY targeted innocent users.

      Again, guilty until proven innocent. He got suspended from mediafire for literally a false accusation. Shouldn’t investigation happen before punishment is delivered?

      • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

        The young man’s Mediafire account wasn’t flagged by the CAS, but rather the same software the powers the CAS. It’s troubling for sure that the software has already proven to flag false positives, but we’ll have to see how things go once people start receiving warnings. I think we haven’t seen that many because those who would actually publicize receiving warnings are already using VPNs or other anonymizing services.

        • Tymon

          Yeah, not to mention, it would probably be pretty easy to hijack someone’s internet connection, use it to pirate, but pirate some sort of porn thing along with the other content, so that the odds of them coming out and saying ‘we didn’t do that’ would be much lower. Generally speaking, society still views an accusation as you did do something, so pirating porn or something in a conservative area… The shame of the accusation alone would be enough to merit silence I’d think.