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War on The Internet: The Four Key Fronts

It’s a fully-fledged war on the internet (not via the internet, which is also going on, as Lockheed Martin can attest). It is fought across multiple fronts, as governments respond to the threat posed by their citizens connecting up with one another and with citizens of other states. And it is being fought in the US, in Europe (especially France) and in Australia, as well as by the world’s worst dictatorships Understanding the differing types of attacks is important in understanding what is driving governments to respond so aggressively to the internet. So it’s important first to develop a taxonomy of attacks on the internet currently underway. 3. Influential gatekeepers The primary source of governmental attacks on the internet come at the behest of powerful pre-digital commercial sectors keen to protect their legacy business models. The most obvious example is the copyright industry, the world’s most politically powerful industry, which has convinced governments around the world to allow it to outsource its enforcement function — traditionally something the industry itself paid for — to taxpayers. France, with its three-strikes law and a governmental determination to regulate the internet, and the US are the two most activist governments on this. In America, legislation that will establish an internet filter based on the demands on the copyright industry, the PROTECTIP Act, has reached the floor of the Senate, although Senator Ron Wyden has placed a stop on the bill as he did for its predecessor, the COICA bill. The US also tries to use trade treaties like ACTA to enforce the demands of the copyright industry, and is now seeking to do the same via the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty. The Department of Homeland Security doesn’t merely shut websites down, it seizes domain names on the basis the sites in question may have linked to material perceived as “infringing” US copyright laws. The French government is even more stringent, not merely through its “three-strikes” HADOPI law, but by prosecuting people connected, even indirectly, to file sharing.

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