The Shock Doctrine hits New Zealand

A disaster strikes (man-made or otherwise) and governments and businesses look to take advantage of the crisis. Canadian writer Naomi Klein has written a book about it and I’m currently working on a book that examines similar issues.

A regular reader of my work has informed me that New Zealand is undergoing something akin to the Shock Doctrine. After the recent terrible Christchurch earthquake, this happened:

The controversial… Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill become law today, rushed through under urgency originally called to pass Canterbury earthquake legislation.

It passed its second reading last night, and was voted into law 111-11 this morning. The votes against it came from the Greens, Chris Carter and Hone Harawira.

The law is designed to stamp out illegal filesharing over the internet. It allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to internet service providers (ISPs), who will then send up to three infringement notices to the account holder.

If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal and the tribunal can make awards of up to $15,000 against the account holder. The tribunal currently has three part time members, according to the National Business Review.

There is also a provision in the law that allows copyright holders to eventually apply through a court to have alleged repeat offenders’ connections suspended for six months, with or without a conviction or proof, and it is this clause which has many internet users and civil libertarians up in arms.

Some bloggers and journalists have noted that the current conservative government has form on these matters, often rushing through legislation without proper discussion or scrutiny.

One of the key elements of the Shock Doctrine is taking action before enough people have realised, by which time it’s too late:

Influential US-based sci-tech and internet culture website… weighed in, saying: “Using the tragedy in Christchurch as a means to advance the corporate agenda of offshore entertainment giants is shameful, to say the least.”

The late night debate meant many locals were probably in bed by the time it was done, but some stayed up, including blogger and computer science student Gian Perrone.

“It reflects a perversion of the democratic process in which due time and consideration is given to the will of the people,”… he wrote on his blog.

“Furthermore, the tone and substance of the debate in the house suggested that the majority of the MPs are not well-informed about the complex technical, legal and social implications of this legislation, particularly the ‘disconnection clause’ that gives an extra-judicial remedy to intellectual property owners who are not required to submit to the usual burden of proof as in any other civil action.”

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