New Zealand Reacted to UN Criticism Over Internet Disconnect

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Old 11-Jun-2011
Post New Zealand Reacted to UN Criticism Over Internet Disconnect

After the report of the United Nations called disconnection from the web a violation of the human rights, New Zealand’s Labour communications spokesperson claimed that it is time to review the country’s copyright legislation.

New Zealand appeared to be the first country feeling the fallout from a report of the United Nations where UN criticized disconnection from the web as tool to fight online copyright violation.

Just a week ago, Frank La Rue, the UN’s expert on freedom of opinion and expression, published a report saying that disconnecting Internet subscribers, even on the basis of copyright infringement, is disproportionate and a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of expression in any type of media.

In response to this report, the country’s Labour communications spokesperson confirmed that they agree with the expert’s conclusions. Meanwhile, New Zealand enacted “three-strikes” regime just a month ago, after a few years of ill-fated attempts. The legislation forces users to pay fines of up to $12,000 and allows for web account suspensions for up to 6 months.

The Green Party of New Zealand, always an opponent of the graduated response system, called the move a “little rich”, meaning that the Labour was having a change of heart at the moment, as it voted in favour of this legislation earlier. The spokesperson for the Green Party reiterated the UN expert’s criticism of the “three-strikes” regime, admitting how important Internet has become to people’s daily lives. They pointed out that more and more of the country’s democracy, interaction with government departments, as well as business and social life happen on the Internet.

For example, Germany has been successful in fighting online infringement and managed to increase the use of legitimate download services without going as far as disconnecting infringers. The latest research from Germany revealed that increasing availability of online content indicated that the country can successfully fight digital piracy without infringing fundamental rights. However, this approach was sadly lacking in this or the last government’s way to battle illicit file-sharing.

According to the report, the government should terminate possible web disconnection from the law books of New Zealand. Hopefully, France and the United Kingdom will reconsider their own “three-strikes” regimes as well.

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