My ongoing experience of life without ADSL (see here) is making me think.
First, a status update: Steve, the Telstra sub-sub-sub-contractor, visited us on Saturday. He dug our nature strip up, and concluded that our rental house’s provisions for Telstra cabling are too short. In other words, the pipe laid down under our concrete driveway when that driveway has been concreted finishes up under a lair of concrete rather than going a meter or so further to reach the nature strip. Talk about bad design and/or cheap execution; that has been the story of our experience with this rental place of ours. As I said here already, I am of the opinion this is no coincidence but rather a symptom of the ongoing Australian class warfare hostilities exchanged between those unable to afford buying their own home and those doing their best to exploit them.
Anyway. I mentioned I had thoughts on our ADSL-less experience. The situation doesn’t only limit us in the entertainment department; the effects are much broader. Limited bandwidth Internet access, which is in effect what we have through having only expensive wireless Internet at our disposal, is very effectively limiting our ability to work from home. In broader terms, it is limiting our ability to communicate with the world: when even simple tasks, such as researching LED lighting for our original home (that's currently being renovated), becomes a slow and torturous task when done through an Optus networked tethered iPhone, both the research and us suffer.
Now, imagine the Internet was taken out of our lives altogether. The way I see it, our household would stop functioning altogether. Communications with our overseas family would be severely restricted due to cost, working at home would be impossible, and any negotiations with companies or government would have to take place over the phone or post. The inefficiencies would mean that our life as we know it would totally change, to the point of us having to cut back on basic necessities – work – in order to accommodate for the inefficiencies. My point is simple: the Internet is essential to modern day living. Obviously not as essential as electricity, yet essential it is; definitely not optional.
Now, consider if you will legislation asking to disconnect households from the Internet when allegations of piracy surface. Such legislation is no fantasy: it is fact in countries like France and New Zealand, and in the USA such a policy has been agreed upon by all the major ISPs. Even here in Australia we had ISPs make such a voluntary offer to the copyright industry, who turned them down expecting more (!).
Think of a not so unlikely scenario where a household is disconnected from the Internet because its teenager downloaded a film. The parents probably never knew what hit them; they may have received warnings, but their Internet illiteracy means they are in no position to know better. Besides, brave is the person seeking to tame a teenager! Alas, if the copyright industry had its way, that family would be left out of an essential service.
Consider further. When someone breaches the law in any other way, no one is saying “let’s disconnect their household’s electricity” or “let’s disconnect their water”. Both electricity and water are essential to the execution of any crime, just as an Internet connection is essential to the execution of Internet piracy, yet no one ever asks to punish those near the culprit with blackouts. For some odd reason or another, the copyright industry is trying to sneak the notion that this collective punishment in the form of the disconnection of another essential service, the Internet, is perfectly fine.
It isn’t. No collective punishment is. It’s about time the copyright industry started looking itself in the mirror before setting out to hurt us blindly.
Image by Frank Codispoti, Creative Commons license