New Zealand Internet Blackout, which is using a variety of Internet services to protest against a new law in New Zealand - the Guilt Upon Accusation law 'Section 92A'. This law may have major implications for Internet users in NZ, because it calls for internet disconnection "based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny." This law is due to come into effect in New Zealand on February 28th. The Blackout is in force on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and various websites/blogs.Social networks are making it increasingly easy to organize and propagate protests. One that caught our eye today is the
Many New Zealanders have joined the protest against this law by blacking out their Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or Bebo photos - and even their own websites and blogs. The ReadWriteWeb Ed (a kiwi) has blacked out his Twitter photo, but this viral campaign has spread far beyond New Zealand. The world's third most popular Twitter user, British TV star Stephen Fry, has also blacked out his Twitter photo. Only CNN and Barack Obama have more Twitter followers than Fry, so his support gives the campaign a decent bump.
The blackout is part of a week of action against S92, declares a press release by the Creative Freedom Foundation, a non-profit group in NZ that has similar copyright concerns to those made famous internationally by Lawrence Lessig. The Creative Freedom Foundation will also announce a S92 song remix challenge this week, and "various other initiatives including video commercials and radio broadcasts will follow."
Creative Freedom Foundation Director Bronwyn Holloway-Smith said in the press release that "if the [New Zealand] government choses to keep this law, they will be going against international trends, treating NZ as an international lab-rat for this kind of legislation". Similar legislation has already been rejected in other countries, such as Germany and the UK. Juha Saarinen on The Techsploder calls S92 "arguably the world's harshest copyright enforcement law". He argues that the new law is "there for the large entertainment organisations to terrorise Internet users" and that it "isn't going to help artists and others rights holders."
It is important to note that the law only applies to telcos and ISPs, but that copyright holders (e.g. the entertainment industry) can demand that ISPs disconnect internet access for those people they accuse of copyright infringement. P2P users and website owners who allegedly have copyrighted material on their websites are most likely to be the target. While some of those people may actually be copyright offenders, what has upset the Creative Freedom Foundation is that disconnection can occur simply by accusation - the phrase 'innocent until proven guilty' becomes meaningless.
If you think the protest is worth supporting, you can sign an online petition here - and of course black out your social network profile!
UPDATE: Here's a video about the issue, made by Chelfyn Baxter from theg33kshow.com and voiced by Oliveroo.