Wise Up Journal
By Benjamin Smith-Kavanagh

Shocking and disturbing times ahead in 2008 for the average music and video lover.

In Ireland the Government has introduced new laws that will be brought in by the end of March as was reported by the Irish Independent, which allows our Internet Service Providers ( ISP’s ) to keep track of everything we do on the internet, including music we listen to and downloaded. Gardai can access this information any time without the need to seek permission and there will be a backlog storage of 2 years for every internet connection (home and business). Our servants in the police force are legally not held accountable for any information they gather on you and me.

There are a small minority who use the internet help aid their crimes. These people also use other technology in their crimes such as postal mail, phones, bank accounts and so on, but does that mean the Gardai have the right to monitor everything you do without any legitimate reason or suspicion, no it does not. How much information does this allow them to gather on you and me without us knowing about it. Your credit card information, personal emails you send to friends, business ideas you email to partners, what you listen to, what you watch, what you download. Whatever your guests do on your PC will be logged in a searchable database on you. The Irish government may be incompetent in most areas such as health and hard crime but when it comes to fining and clamping they get an A+. They will be even more efficient in this new area of tracking, arresting and fining as our taxes will be used on outsourcing this new surveillance industry to experts.

Irish Independent – Thursday, February 28th 2008
“Legal professionals suggest the move equates to the mass digital surveillance of the entire people of Ireland and may leave the Government to weather a brewing legal storm over the issues of human rights and privacy, but that will only happen if the Irish public become aware of this. The Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 aided in getting this through as it implies that personal data would only ever be accessed in the situation of fighting terrorist offences. But this is not the case: presently your stored telecommunications data may be accessed in the investigation of any crime, be it serious or trivial, in relation to a terrorist offence or not at all.”

Almost everything can be made sound quite reasonable and legally passed when we are told it will be used to fight against terrorism or serious crimes but not for its more applicable use. Fines for the Government and profits from our taxes to outsourced companies not only give the Government more power over tracking our lives but also creates a new area of a lucrative industry for the people who have the right connections. Now I want you to ask yourself a question and I want you to really think about it for a few moments, what do you know about the ‘three-strike’ illegal download proposals in Britain?

As reported by BBC – Tuesday, Feburary 12th 2008

“Internet users in Britain who illegally download music may be banned from going online. That’s according to leaked Government proposals published in The Times on Government proposals published in The Times on Tuesday (12 Feb).The reports, which also applies to films, outlines a ‘three-strike’ system where users would get an email warning if they are suspected of illegal downloading.

If they are caught a second time, they would be suspended from using the internet and then would face a termination of their contract if they were caught a third time.

Broadband companies who fail to enforce the ‘three-strikes’ regime would be prosecuted and suspected customers’ details could be made available to the courts.”

Everyone knows someone who has watched a movie or music video on youtube and all the other sites where people can upload/download files. How will the person watching or downloading these videos know if every little piece of the footage is has no illegal copyright issues and the producer of the video has bought the soundtrack’s copyright? Now these outsourced companies working on our money will easily be able find you, your friends, and your family to be arrested, finned and banned from using the internet if they watch, listen, or download files later deemed to have copyrighted material. Every time someone wants to use your computer, will you have to give them a ten minute speech of what they can and cannot do? You now know that if they listen, watch download/upload something that might contain a section of copyrighted martial, you will be held responsible. If we look into what has already happened in British and US Court Cases we can see that the people who are monitored & targeted on the internet for downloads are not music loving terrorists or dangerous criminals but average people.

BBC reports that a jury fines music file-sharer $222,000, to be taken from her salary for life – Friday, October 5th 2007

A court in the US has ordered a woman to pay $222,000 (£109,000) in damages for illegally file-sharing music.

The jury ordered Jammie Thomas, 32, from Minnesota, to pay for offering to share 24 specific songs online – a cost of $9,250 per song. Record companies said she had illegally shared a total of 1,702 songs. Ms Thomas, who denied the charges, was the first person accused of illegal file-sharing who decided to fight the case in court. Each year, millions of households illegally share music files, and the music industry takes it as a serious threat to its revenue. About 26,000 lawsuits have been filed against alleged file-sharers, but most defendants settle privately by paying damages amounting to a few thousand dollars. However, contesting the charge and losing will cost Jammie Thomas almost a quarter of a million dollars.

Her lawyer, Brian Toder, told the Associated Press that Ms Thomas was reduced to tears by the verdict. “This is a girl that lives from pay cheque to pay cheque, and now all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her pay cheque garnished for the rest of her life,” he said. The US record industry said investigators located an individual with the screen name “tereastarr@KaZaA”, using the Kazaa file-sharing software program. “This individual was downloading copyrighted sounds recordings from other users of the Kazaa network, and was distributing copyrighted sound recordings stored on her computer to other Kazaa users,” the plaintiffs said. A spokesman for the record companies said he hoped people would understand the verdict.”

If you bring these stories together, you start to see the real reason why the Irish Government has introduced these new laws, passed under the banner of fighting terrorism and serious crime. Lets go back to Marie Boran’s Irish Independent report and see how civil rights groups, internet companies and industry experts feel about these new laws.

Simon McGarr who’s firm represents civil rights group Digital Rights Ireland in its “ongoing case against domestic and EU data retention laws. “When this data retention is extended to internet data, it requires ISPs to store information that they have absolutely no business requirements for.

Shane Deasy, managing director for wireless i n t e r n e t provider Bit- Buzz, “The industry has met with the Department of Justice and has had several discussions on this forth forthcoming legislation.

“It may require a lot more storage on the part of the ISPs but at the moment we simply don’t know exactly what we are going to be asked to retain.”

If the notion of mass electronic surveillance makes you feel uncomfortable and you are left wondering when this democratic decision was made and why you didn’t add your tuppenceworth, it is probably worth mentioning that you never had a say in the first place.

Current data retention requirements in Ireland have their legal grounding in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005, added on at the last minute and pushed through by the then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, without public discussion or visibility.

“The Irish Government claims it is introducing the directive now because it is running out of time but in fact it had the power to avail of a further exemption for another 18 months: something many other member states did but Ireland chose not to,” says McGarr.

“This is the mass surveillance of the people of Ireland.” All this information is being stored about every innocent citizen out there and Durrant along with many others believes that it is in some ways turning around the whole reality of our legal system.

The real problem with this directive, he says, is that ISPs will be storing terabytes upon terabytes of data relating to innocent people who are doing nothing except going about their normal digital lives of browsing and emailing.

The adage of “the innocent have nothing to fear” is clearly not the case and McIntyre adds that data retention is trivially easy to circumvent, so those who want to avoid being detected will find a way regardless of mass digital surveillance.

“The criminals, who you really want to capture, are the very people who will take the trouble to know how to get around this”

If you take on board what all the experts say, the British Government proposals on a ‘three-strike’ internet ban system, the British and US court cases, and you know the people the Irish government are going after are not the terrorists or dangerous criminals, but the average person, ask your self do you want your elected servants to have this much knowledge and control over you and your family, increasing as time goes by? At the moment we are quite bosses and the Government is our out of control employees.