Monday, March 15, 2010

Unclean!, Unclean!, Unclean!

There is something very wrong with the currently proposed legislation, which focuses on the actions of the citizens at the end of the digital pipe. The greater crimes, being enabled by the ISP's, are not those being focused on by the special interest groups.

Let's jump back in time to a famous water pump near a London Pub, this particular pump was contaminated with the Cholera bacterium and was killing off the citizens of London. If the currently proposed approach were to have been taken in 1854, then those that had caught Cholera from the Broad Street pump would have been denied the right to take further water from the pump. Clearly anyone not yet infected would be welcome to drink from the poisoned source. The death toll would have been horrendous!

Similarly, the flow of unclean bits is the root of the most critical problems we face on the internet, a fact that is clearly not the focus of those that would protect the wealth of the old "Publishers". Unclean bits are those bits that carry the malware, that create botnets, that steal our privacy, often our identities, and worse our wealth, but always our bandwidth! Legislation should focus on ensuring clean bits, just like the legislation of Clean Water after the Cholera Outbreak. The basic fix back in 1854 was the clearing out of the cesspools, which improved the cleanliness of the water from the pumps.

We can learn from history, the 1852 Metropolitan Water Act and "The Grand Experiment" maybe useful. Perhaps if we connect a large number of citizens to the fetid internet connections they currently enjoy, and an equal number to a connections that are "e-pure" and evaluate the results. We will come to the similar conclusion to that John Snow spent his life campaigning for, "Clean Bits are good for the citizens of cyber space"!

It is likely if we have the ISP's focus on the digital cesspools and not the activities of the citizenry, then the internet will continue to grow to be the greatest revenue generator we have ever known. It will not, however, if we try and constrain it with copyright rules designed for previous centuries. The Jericho Forum would call this thinking Macro-Perimeterisation, moving the management of information risk out into the Clouds.

The music industry should be enabling the flow of clean bits, for as figures are now showing the growth in digital music is now more than offsetting the loss of CD sales. The Featured Artists Coalition are the beginnings of moving the power and finances back to the creators and artists. The death throws of the old publishing industry and their attempt to impose their old models need to be managed with care.

Let's hope our legislators look to history for clues to solve this situation.