Sunday, November 27, 2005


So, returning to the report in yesterday's Guardian that record labels are seeking to be given access to records of your phone and web communications, it's so offensively absurd, for so many reasons, that part of us wants to just wander down to the BPI HQ and applaud them for what can only be an absurdist stunt. We don't think governments and law enforcement agencies should be allowed to get access to this data, but we can at least see why some people might argue they need it. But for a private business to suggest that such a fundamental abuse of the rights to privacy is required to ensure they can sell the maximum number of Coldplay albums is insane.

We've written an email to one of our MEPs, and if you've got a moment or two to spare you might like to do the same, insisting that this approach be laughed out of the European Parliament. You can find details of your MEP and how to contact them online; if you want to use the same message we sent, feel free - this is what we said:

I read in the Guardian that organisations representing record companies and film studios are pressing for the EU to give them access to data being gathered (supposedly) in the fight against terrorism, and I hope I can count on you and your fellow MEPSs to resist this nasty attempt by private corporations to extend their powers into the realms of the security services in every way possible.

Besides the obvious reasons making it undesirable to allow unelected, unaccountable corporations to have access to such sensitive and personal data, the record companies are hardly fit organisations to be seeking to develop quasi-judicial powers in the first place. In recent years, the major labels have been found to be colluding in price-fixing in the US, are currently under investigation for breaching US federal and state laws in regard to illegal and anti-competitive payola (something already admitted by Sony-BMG and Warners) and have been attempting to chip away consumer rights by selling products which resemble compact discs without actually offering the functionality of that format. As you may be aware, Sony-BMG has recently been caught distributing discs in the US which have been deemed by Microsoft to contain malware; installed on a PC without the owner's knowledge or consent and leaving users' computers open to malicious hijacking. Any attempt to remove the dirty code renders the computer unuseable.

Companies which behave in such a way, without regard for the laws in the nations in which they operate, or the consumers they are supposed to be serving, are surely lucky to be allowed to continue in business - for them to demand to be allowed access to private material and records of individual's communications for business reasons is totally unacceptable.

I call on you and your fellow MEPs to make it clear to these companies - and any others who wish to use the cloak of supposed anti-terrorist legislation - that in Europe, the rights of the individual to privacy will always outweigh assisting private companies to increase their profits.


Anonymous said...

Hi simon, nice item. I noticed that article in teh grauniad, and was going to mail you to point it out, but you beat me to it. I fully expected ntk to be getting sniffy about it too, but they've gone all quiet again. Probably too busy eating sweets.

Anonymous said...

I think you might have meant "render the computer unuseable" there. Excellent letter though. I'll send it to my MEP

Anonymous said...

Living in London, I appear to have many MEPs! I've emailed them all. I think we might have to do more than that to impact upon them though. Perhaps a telephone campaign if this moves any further forward.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Oops, thanks for picking that up doc - i'd originally gone with useless but didn't quite change it completely.

And, Aaron - yes, I think this does need a larger response...

boni samuel said...

Thank you, your article is very good

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