from the say-what-now? dept

We’ve written a bunch about the City of London Police* and their extrajudicial campaign against “piracy” by trying to scare web hosting and domain registrar firms into taking down websites based on nothing more than the City of London Police’s say so. However, Adrian Leppard, the guy in charge of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (funded both by taxpayersand legacy entertainment companies) spoke at an IP Enforcement Summit in London and his comments, relayed by Torrentfreak, should raise questions about whether or not this is the right person to have anything to do with stopping “crime” on the internet:

“Whether it’s Bitnet, The Tor – which is 90% of the Internet – peer-to-peer sharing, or the streaming capability worldwide. At what point does civil society say that as well as the benefits that brings, this enables huge risk and threat to our society that we need to take action against?”

Yeah, try to parse that one. Beyond not being true, it’s almost entirely nonsensical. And this guy is ordering websites completely shut down based on nothing more than his say so?

This sounds kind of like the idiotic debates that were had a decade or so ago, when clueless folks from the entertainment industry were first getting online.

“The Internet pushes through every border control legislation we have and it is carrying a huge amount of harm to our society, as well as offering creative opportunity for business. At some point there has to be a debate and a challenge about the harm the Internet brings.”

Yeah, that debate happened long ago, and people realized (1) the claims of harm are completely overblown by folks like yourself and (2) the benefits are massive. Debate closed.

But, really, what Leppard is doing is trying to declare war on the internet, because it’s upset the business model of a few businesses that are funding this effort (which would suggest a less-than-unbiased view of the issue):

“The new legislation that’s necessary is not just about prosecuting people and protecting people, we’ve got to think about some of the enabling functions that allow this to happen that we just take for granted.”

“Enabling functions”? He’s talking about regulating the internet to add deeper layers of secondary liability, thereby effectively destroying one of the most important ingredients to the internet’s success. All because his friends in the obsolete legacy parts of the entertainment industry haven’t figured out how to adapt.

It would appear that the City of London Police are the legacy entertainment industry’s dream law enforcement group: completely clueless about technology and innovation, and not all that concerned about basic legal concepts like due process and protections against third party liability. That lets them rampage through the internet like bullies trying to shut down anything their friends in the industry don’t like, oblivious to any collateral damage it might cause. That’s a very dangerous tool, and it’s going to cause serious problems before too long.

* I don’t know what it is about the City of London Police that always seems to make people want to clarify stuff in the comments, but just to cut all this off: (1) Yes, I know that the City of London Police covers just “the City of London” which is about a 1-square mile area within London, rather than the wider London police force and (2) I also know that many of the big banks and big London businesses are in City of London, so the City of London Police have some amount of powerful connections with businesses. There is no reason to clarify any of that in the comments. We know already.

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