So GCHQ is already spying on behalf of the copyright industry. Why isn’t there an outcry over this change of mission?
It was a little-noticed story in the Entertainment and Oddities section: The GCHQ is using its spying network to help the copyright industry prevent “unauthorized distribution of creative works” – meaning ordinary people sharing interesting things with each other. Yes, that spying network which was supposed to prevent horrible terror attacks, and only to prevent horrible terror attacks, to safeguard our very lives as a last line of defense, is now in the service of the copyright industry.
In what’s almost a joke story, the BBC reports that the GCHQ tracked down what looked like a leak of a Harry Potter book somewhere on the Internet and alerted the publisher to it. It turned out to be a fake version. Still, media turns the entire story into a joke and a laughing opportunity, with the GCHQ spokesperson commenting thus: “We don’t comment on our defence against the dark arts.”
“We don’t comment on [GCHQ’s] defence against the dark arts.”
This is not a joke. Not at all.
We know since earlier that the copyright industry has been extremely, extremely, hostile to privacy. Throughout Europe, that industry were adamant for the need for the hated Data Retention Directive, which was later nuked from orbit by the European Supreme Court, citing fundamental human privacy rights. The copyright industry knows that its obsolete distribution model cannot survive in the face of sustained civil liberties – specifically, the right to communicate anonymously in private – so the industry is doing all it can to erode and dismantle that fundamental civil right.
If you don’t believe that, or don’t want to believe that, look at when the Irish branch of the record industry association sued Eircom, the country’s largest ISP, for the right to install wiretapping-and-censorship equiment in the deepest of the ISP switches, to prevent unauthorized transmission of music. Yes, that’s a private industry seriously demanding the right to not just wiretap an entire country, but also to take itself the right to determine – and enforce! – what may or may not be communicated. Do you realize the gravity of this? The utter, shameless audacity? The idea that silly round pieces of plastic, shipped using obsolete methods, are more important to society than the most basic freedom of speech – and that authorities and courts are actually acting in the general direction of that idea?
Now, you have the NSA, GCHQ, and similar which were originally set up to spy on the Soviet Union, and later changed in mission to spy on the enemy du jour, which is said to be terror plots. Horrible, awful terror attacks, so you give up much of your essential liberty. (Actually, you never did give up that liberty, you were forced to do so; it was taken from you. But still.) Politicians were literally scaring the public into allowing authorities to wiretap, well, everything. In the name of “safety”. In the name of “security”.
And now it turns out, in the “laughingstock” section of mass media, that there has been a change of mission to also spy invasively on behalf of the copyright industry, to prevent ordinary people from sharing interesting things outside of the intended distribution monopoly. Why isn’t there a public outcry and outrage over the shock and repulsiveness of this mission creep?
Privacy remains your own responsibility.