13 February 2010

Will Verizon adopt a "three strikes and you are out" policy?


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Verizon was once acclaimed for its firm standing in opposing copyright holders’ attempts to access the personal data of subscribers who had allegedly infringed copyrights by means of peer-to-peer file sharing platforms. That was 2003 and, no doubt, everything flows, but same company’s newer policy nearly condemns those glory days to oblivion.

CNET as well as Wired have recently reported that Verizon has begun terminating some subscribers’ Internet access due to said subscribers’ alleged copyright infringing dealings.

According to FindLaw columnist Anita Ramasastry this is to be viewed as the result of RIAA’s “alternative approach” to work with ISPs to police illegal downloading, instead of – after having lessons learned – suing the downloaders themselves. In this respect a crucial question is awaiting an answer – does RIAA by any means “support” Verizon or how does Verizon learn of its subscribers’ alleged copyright infringement at all? In the state of such intransparent policies, I personally could only encourage subscribers to Internet services to play question-and-answer games with their ISPs, and with Verizon in particular, in order to gain as much information thereon as just possible.

While Canadian law professor Michael Geist blogs that Verizon’s actions are not exactly “three strikes and you are out”, as concerned subscribers still can go to another ISP, he nevertheless points out that the lack of due process is very disturbing.

It is hard to predict as to whether Verizon will introduce a zero tolerance three strikes policy, it is nonetheless just pity that one of America’s major ISPs has yielded to copyright holders’ and their representatives’ demands by thus demonstrating readiness to sacrifice its customers’ fundamental rights in the information society.