New Zealand Reconsiders Three-Strikes Rule on Internet Use

New Zealand agreed this week to reconsider a controversial law that cut off Internet access to people accused of copyright violations.

The country’s parliament passed Section 92a of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act in 2008, also known as the “three-strikes” rule, which would have come into play in February 2009. If an Internet user was even accused of file-sharing or otherwise violating copyright laws, his or her Internet-service provider would cut off service.

The implementation of the amendment was pushed back to March 27 so that ISPs could agree on a code of conduct, but the rallying cry from Internet free-speech organizations such as the Creative Freedom Foundation pushed the Parliament to rethink its strategy.

How could a democratic government consider cutting off Internet access for people who haven’t been convicted of a copyright violation? Danny O’Brien, the international outreach coordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that New Zealand changed its copyright law to be in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S., but then chose to interpret the language differently than the U.S.

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