Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Six Strikes" Internet Rule Likely Installed Monday

By Bixyl Shuftan

Internet Privacy activists expressed worry when on Monday February 26, the "Six Strikes" rule was set to go into effect. Devised last year, the rules involve the "Copyright Alert System" set up by the following Internet Service Providers: AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

Under the system, copyright owners are supposedly alerted to people downloading their content without permission, and they can alert the ISPs to the people targeted by the system. The first alerts are warnings. After a few warnings come "mitigation alerts" which depending on the ISP results in temporary reductions in Internet speed, a downgrade in the service tier, redirection to a page for a period of time, or other measures. After six alerts, there are no more, but each supposed violation is recorded in case the matter is taken to court.

Critics point out that the system is imperfect, that in wireless Internet "hot spots" that an innocent user could potentially be tagged as illegally downloading even if he/she wasn't as open wi-fi signals allow for their IP address to be used by others. Also, there are methods for determined pirates to avoid the system, such as cyberlockers, streaming sites, offline swapping, and others. Then there are privacy issues. Electronic Frontier Foundation director Corynne McSherry called Six Strikes, "just a great big expensive system to snoop on and intimidate people" whom she felt were mostly behaving themselves. She called it's recording of violations, "a private copyright system, and it doesn't have the protections and balances that the public copyright system has." It has also been noted that the system's software to identify copyright violations was inspected and approved by a former lobbyist of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In early 2012, RIAA was among those trying to get the US Congress to pass the SOPA bill, which alarmed critics who stated it's vague language threatened to shut down the Internet as we know it. It was in the months following it's defeat that the Copyright Alert System and Six Strikes was set up. It was supposedly to be enacted in late 2012, but was delayed by the damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Sources: The Guardian,,

Bixyl Shuftan

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