Protecting copyright at the cost of children’s rights?

Picture 18There is a lot of talk right now around the rushed legislation proposed by Peter Mandelson, and being consulted on by BIS, that would allow households suspected of illegally downloading copyright material through peer-to-peer filesharing or other methods to have their internet access cut off.

The way this proposal suggests leapfrogging legal processes of proof before action is taken against suspected offenders was a theme coming up in more than one of the MSc research proposal shared in my induction at the Oxford Internet Institute this afternoon – but one dimension which deserves added attention is the impact of the proposed legislation on the rights of children young people.

Although the UK Government has signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we still lack a systematic review of the way legislation impacts Children’s Rights – so the key voice pointing out the fundamental problems in Mandelson’s proposal is coming from ARCH – Action on the Rights of the Child.

ARCH explain in their response to the BIS consultation:

the tone [of the proposed legislation] has more to do with the interests of copyright holders than with the rights of children.

And in their analysis set out the ways on which a restriction on household access to the internet, impacts children and young people – and runs counter to government efforts for digital inclusion, and internet access as a key part of learning.

Children and young people have a right of free access to information (so long as that access does not harm them / others), and to cut off internet access, no longer just a luxury but a key element of modern life, because of the actions of some other member of the household, or accidental infringement by young people unaware of copyright laws, seems manifestly unjust and rights-infringing.

38 Degrees and the Open Rights Group are actively leading the campaign against this proposed legislation.

2 thoughts on “Protecting copyright at the cost of children’s rights?”

  1. Thanks, Tim, for this information – will circulate. It is a touch depressing that, even in the possibly dying days of its administration, New Labour clings to managerial and often authoritarian responses to social dilemmas. Utterly without moral compass itself, symbolised by Mandelson’s resurrection, it harbours the deepest mistrust for its citizens, not least young people. And, as ARCH indicate, New Labour continues to back private profit rather than defend people’s rights.

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