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A French Preview

Coming soon to a theatre near you. By Rick Falkvinge.

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In the final stretch before the EU elections we're getting a preview of what the IP lobbyists are after. On 12 May the Hadopi proposal passed through the lower house of the French parliament.

Hadopi is supposed to 'protect artists against file sharing'. But here's what it really means.

  • People are disconnected from the Internet without a court decision after three 'accusations' of file sharing are submitted by the multinational media corporations. The disconnect order will be handed down by an administrative agency also called 'Hadopi'.

  • People still have to pay for their Internet connections whilst they're disconnected.

  • Should people insist their innocence the Hadopi agency then have the right to install spyware on people's computers. This spyware will then report every action/keystroke back to the Hadopi agency. One is automatically and formally considered 'guilty as charged' if one refuses to give the agency access to install the spyware.

  • French minister of culture Christine Albanel predicts hundreds of thousands will be disconnected each year.

So let's take a look at what we've got. We have an agency that will report only to the media giants. An agency that demands to see everything - everything - we do on our computers. We have multinational giants that want to disconnect citizens from the Internet - and we have politicians who coldly calculate there'll be hundreds of thousands of disconnects. The link between the witch hunt for file sharers and the intrusion on our private lives couldn't be clearer.

This is what the IP lobbyists are after. And it's not paranoid tinfoil fantasies any longer - it's now happened to a nation in Europe. A nation with activists who will drag the law into the constitutional court and the European courts but still and all: the law passed.

Those trying to respond to this witch hunt on file sharing now have France to refer to as an example of what such a policy can lead to. For this is what's needed to stop file sharing: spyware on your computers so your every move can be monitored. No politicians in Sweden - at least for now - are advocating the use of spyware or the idea one is guilty until proven innocent. But that's not the case anymore throughout Europe.

This is why the Pirate Party is needed. The struggle for the open society has begun here and now.

Rick Falkvinge is a founder and current chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party who are expected to win seats in the coming European parliament.

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