As you may have heard, starting July 12th, ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner and the RIAA have entered into an agreement where, if they see “suspicious activity,” they’ll offer a “graduated response,” essentially sending you a few nasty emails and then cutting off your Internet service.
Now, I could be opposed to this on all sorts of levels, and I am. But the part of me that enjoys schadenfreude loves this. It’s like the major media companies lovingly crafted this just for me. Because this is going to go down in flames.
I’ve talked before about how piracy as a danger is greatly exaggerated and how the film industry especially needs to change its focus. But I’m just some dude writing for a website that, the more you read it, makes you more sexually attractive to the gender of your choice. Anyway, they’re firmly committed to believing everybody is stealing their products, all the time, because the alternative, that the world and how their products are legally consumed has transformed permanently, is simply too much to bear. What we’re witnessing here is denial writ large.
Here’s how this is going to end:
– A class-action lawsuit from people who have their Internet service unfairly cut off is a matter of when, not if. There’s zero oversight, and absolutely no appeal, to this policy, and none of these companies have shown anything resembling competence in actually invading people’s privacy in the past. Watching major cable companies get dragged to court and publicly shamed for incompetence promises to be highly entertaining.
– It will force the RIAA to confront the fact that their declining revenues have nothing to do with piracy and more to do with their awful business model. Especially since they’ll likely be providing the data to the public triumphantly at first — and then forced to revise it as the inevitable mistakes and screwups begin to mount.
– It will propagate privacy tools in a way that Big Brother paranoia never could. I hope the Tor project is upgrading its servers, because it’s going to get slammed. This invasion of privacy is likely going to force Internet privacy issues front and center politically, and have millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t care tweaking and building darknets of their very own. Speaking of which…
– In the extreme, this might be, pure and simply, the death of cable monopolies. This is an extreme hope, but if people get sick of being cut off because of incompetence, they’ll vote with their wallet and go elsewhere. Or possibly use their vote to leverage their Congressman to investigate Big Cable’s behavior.
In the short term, this is pretty awful and a serious blow to net neutrality. In the long term? Possibly this will be the best thing to ever happen on the Internet. Well, from a schadenfreude point of view.
(Image via CurtisEFlush on Flickr)