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On UK Internet Regulation

Some people think that the Internet should be regulated along national boundaries, but others prefer to see it as a truly global application that must transcend such anti-progressive limitations. Like religion and politics this always makes for some heated arguments especially when DRM is thrown into the mix.

Last week, the BCS Internet Specialist Group held an evening seminar on the effects of Internet regulation in the UK. This talk featured a speaker from the Open Rights Group (ORG), a UK based civil liberties advocacy group similar in style to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The speaker and ORG’s Executive Director, Becky Hogge, did a great job explaining what ORG does, why it exists, and whose interest it serves (i.e. yours and mine). She then went on to host an interactive session with the audience which offered up some good debate and thought-provoking points of view ranging from defamation law and “Cease & Desist” orders; to the delicate balance between protecting civil liberty (e.g. the right to privacy) and criminal activities (like child pornography and digital piracy).

As you might imagine, DRM was not spared any quarter on the latter issue, and was held up as a prime example of industrial strength skullduggery employed mainly by greedy incumbents attempting to hold on to fast declining market leadership, or oligipolies. But what else is new?

Overall this was a most entertaining seminar, even though it did not fully answer the above question of how and where Internet Regulation should be crafted and policed. I thought the consensus was leaning towards a bit of both (i.e. national and global regulation, as the situation demands) but I may be wrong. Do you have another opinion on this matter? If so, please share with us.

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