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New Zealand to Review Internet Disconnection After UN Criticism

New Zealand to Review Internet Disconnection After UN Criticism

Labour communications spokeswoman Clare Curran says “It’s time for a complete review of our copyright laws” after UN Report calls Internet disconnection, “regardless of the justification provided,” a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It seems as though New Zealand is the first country to feel the fallout from a UN report criticizing Internet disconnection as tool to fight online copyright infringement.

Last week Frank La Rue, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, submitted a report concluding that disconnecting Internet users, “regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

That article specifies that everyone has the right to freedom of expression in any type of media.

In response to the report New Zealand’s Labour communications spokeswoman Clare Curran said it’s “time for a complete review of our copyright laws.” She says that she agrees with La Rue’s conclusions that Internet disconnection violates international law.

New Zealand enacted “three-strikes” legislation this past April after several years of ill-fated attempts. The law allows for fines of up to NZ$15,000 ($12,000) and Internet account suspensions for up to six months.

The country’s Green Party, long an opponent of the graduated response scheme, called it a “little rich” that the Labour was now having a change of heart.

“I think it is a little rich, Labour, who voted in favour of this Bill are now calling for a complete review of our copyright laws after this report,” said a Green Party spokesman.

He reiterated La Rue’s criticism of the policy, and noted how vital an Internet connection has become to our daily lives.

“More and more of our democracy, interaction with Government departments, business and social life occur online,” said the spokesman.

He pointed out how Germany had been successful in combating online infringement AND increase the use of legal download services without disconnecting infringers.

“As recent research from Germany shows, Increasing availability of digital content shows that one can combat Internet piracy without infringing basic rights, and was sadly lacking in this or the last Government’s approach to illegal file-sharing,” said the spokesman.

In light of the report he says the Minister should “terminate” possible Internet termination from the country’s law books.

It’s hard not to disagree.

Let’s hope France and the UK reconsider their own “three-strikes” legislation as well.

Stay tuned.

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