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Digital Britain to be just like Digital Brazil?

January 31, 2009

Time to catch up on a story that I missed this week. Boingboing reported the release of the UK government’s consultation document on Digital Britain. I had a eerie feeling of deja vu because the proposals are just like parts of Senator Azeredo’s bill that is halfway through the legislative process here in Brazil. Effectively it regards the Internet as some kind of untamed zone which must be brought under state control through a Rights Agency and ISPs acting increasingly as surveillance agents over the activities of their users, in this case particularly with regard to file-sharing.

The similarity is not surprising. There has been a serious global push for several years now by corporate content creators to hobble the Internet, and turn it into something more like television. The fact that the Digital Britain plan is filed under ‘broadcasting’ on the government’s website says quite a lot about the lack of tech savvy of state regulators in this area. What governments, in listening only to the corporate argument, don’t appear to realise is that we are actually collectively and autonomously coming up with better ways of ‘regulation’ of content through initiatives like Creative Commons and so on.

As in Brazil, where a serious netizen counter-plan is now emerging, with parliamentary support, there needs to be some serious organisation in Britain to present the alternatives to destroying the Internet and all is messy, unruly creativity. The Open Rights Group are trying to do this – let’s get behind them and make this more than just a few tech-savvy usual suspects.

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