OpJapan: Anonymous vs. Japan and its War on Piracy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pierluigi Paganini

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(Translated from the original Italian)

A couple of days ago a read about a new amendment to copyright laws passed in Japan last week.

The amendment addresses illegal downloads of pirated material establishing extremely severe penalties for the violators.

The law comes into effect in October, and it establishes that those people who download pirated material such as DVDs and Blu-Ray discs may be fined an amount as high as $25,000 and could be sentenced with two years in prison.  

The Japanese Government has declared war on piracy and illegal downloads, the new amendment makes downloading truly punishable, and it's first time that the country decided on such severe penalties.

According the data provided by the Recording Industry of Japan (RIAJ) there were around 440 million legal music downloads, and around 4400 illegal ones.

In Japan, the amendment has provoked a heated debate. The political opposition, while agreeing on the need to protect copyrights, does not share enthusiasm for the law passing.

Today I've noted several tweets of Anonymous cells invoking the #opJapan hashtag to respond to the approval of the law.

The following are some of the message published by the collective:

"Anonymous vs Japans copyright laws: Anonymous strongly believes that the implementation of this law will score in unnecessary prison sentences to numerous innocent citizens. The implementation of this law will solve nothing. To the government of Japan and the Recording Industry Association of Japan, you can now expect us the same way we have come to expect you in violating our basic rights to privacy and to an open internet," 

 

As usual, in an official press release the members of Anonymous have provided a list of IRC channels used to spread instruction of the upcoming attacks on Japanese targets.

The Japanese Ministry of Finance responded to #opJapan by reporting that they turned off some of their systems due an external intrusion on its website detected last week. The representatives of the Government added that no classified information has been stolen.

As usual, let's try to analyze the events from an independent perspective. In recent years we have witnessed a dramatic effort in the fight against piracy initiated by governments and strongly supported by the affected industries.

The results of this effort are poor: Piracy is still growing, and the typical internet user runs the risk of being limited by the execution of Draconian laws and by the enforcement of absurd penalties. In my opinion, the approach is totally amiss, as the implementation of surveillance mechanisms is a serious threat to freedom of expression and to the technological development.

Japan is recognized as one of the leading countries of the IT landscape, and such a law is a striking contrast to a country that has always proposed an innovative image and whose economy is based on technological growth. It's clear that in a similar situation, after obtaining the support of government, industry will also ask the support to the ISPs to implement these surveillance mechanisms. That is the death of utopian privacy.

I always considered that violating privacy on principal as a cyber threat, as it is ridiculous to imprison a person for a download and leave unpunished the corrupt politicians who are wrecking the global economy.

Let's talk about these anachronistic laws, let's discuss the approach, but let's not not hide behind inadequate amendments, as such decisions are extremely dangerous, especially in conjunction with phenomena such as corruption and censorship

Cross-posted from Security Affairs

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