Can't Have Copyright Enforcement Without Destroying Privacy Protections

from the let's-face-facts dept

Last week, Tim Geigner wrote about the Spanish soccer league, La Liga, getting hit with a GDPR fine because its mobile software just happened to sneakily include a surreptitious surveillance feature, turning on users' microphones to try to capture who was watching/listening to unauthorized broadcasts of matches. I wanted to write a little more on this, inspired by a comment from Professor Annemarie Bridy, who pointed out that anti-piracy enforcement goes hand-in-hand with surveillance:

People underestimate the extent to which anti-piracy enforcement involves surveillance. https://t.co/uv9KRfYnnc

— Annemarie Bridy (@AnnemarieBridy)

This is an important point that often gets overlooked. Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the original Pirate Party, has repeatedly explained why Pirate Parties often view copyright policy, encryption, and privacy as all parts of the same issue. Indeed, he's argued that copyright enforcement efforts, by definition, are anti-privacy efforts.

Enforcement of copyright is fundamentally, conceptually incompatible with privacy of correspondence. You can't have the sealed and private letter in existence at the same time as you enforce copyright, once communications have gone digital. This is the reason you see VPN companies and other privacy advocates fight copyright enforcement and copyright law: because society has to choose between privacy and copyright, and basic civil liberties are considered more important than one particular entertainment business model.

Of course, that's why it's so ridiculous that Hollywood and its various front groups are out front-and-center (and also, very much behind the scenes with their lobbyists whispering in policymakers' ears) bashing internet companies for not respecting users' privacy. You know, without a doubt, that if internet companies were truly pushing for stronger privacy and real end-to-end encryption for internet services that Hollywood and its friends would be first in line arguing that this would only be used for piracy and must be stopped.

Filed Under: copyright , enforcement , privacy , surveillance

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