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Sunday, 29 January 2012

MSM: Only Anonymous hates ACTA! If you want to change public opinion, revenge attacks are generally unhelpful

RTL France (part of Europe's second-largest TV and radio group), report on multiple protests against ACTA across Fance yesterday using the headline (translated to English):

The "Anonymous" marched across France

There are very legitimate concerns about ACTA. The MEP acting as the European Parliament's special rapporteur on ACTA quit in disgust at the way the treaty was negotiated - even the BBC covered this resignation, such was the significance. 

But it's worrying how legitimate protest against a treaty is now being reported in the mainstream media.  Activists and campaigners, many of whom are moderate in their views on Intellectual Property, are being linked to a group known for direct action - many of this action both illegal and unethical. 

- And being linked to a group the public fears.

Yes, the general public are scared of Anonymous.  I'm not saying this glibly or with any irony intended.  I've spoken to police sources who believe making Anonymous a high priority target is a worthy public duty in the fight against e-crime; they're protecting the public.

People are scared of what they don't understand, and they're scared of a group of people who appear to control the internets with no apparent democratic control or oversight.

Of course the issue of what is and what isn't democratic is debatable for a group who rely on mass participation to achieve their aims, but claiming Anonymous is democratic neatly brushes over one well-documented consequence of anarchy: the weak end up living at the mercy of the strong.

Yes, there are also documented cases of mob rule acting in the interest of the weak and vulnerable, but the hot-headedness and lack of due process, checks and balances introduces a clear problem with mob rule: mob justice isn't always just.

Frustrations with governments not listening

I wrote in The arrogance of the echochamber how and why the emerging views of the great democratic Think Tank that revolves today [mainly] around Twitter (and around Usenet Newsgroups in the early days of the web)  don't necessarily reflect wider public opinion.

Even when that emerging view is, on most levels of analysis, rational and correct, it can still take over 15 years for mainstream news sources and hence governments to start to listen to that view.  

Yes, this will shift over time, but the aggregated view of a majority of online contributors does not yet translate into the opinion being piped into homes across the world via TV, radio and mainstream newspapers.

For years mainstream news sources have simply ignored the copyright debate. Intellectual property is simply not a sexy subject. 

Referring to the over-used - and, incidentally, disputed - Gandhi quote: first they ignore you...


Now comes the laugh at you, and the actions of some in revenge of e.g. the Megaupload take down make life easy for those in the mainstream media to ridicule those fighting for a fair and appropriate balance to copyright law.

An emerging trend of some mainstream news sources owned by people who have a vested interest in pushing copymax policies is to link opposition to new, stricter copyright regimes to Anonymous, e.g. Fox Business: Reddit sides with Anonymous.

The aim of this ridicule is to turn the public against the activists, the irony being that most moderate activists have wanted public debate around these issues for years; now we've got the debate, mainstream media are more than happy to portray all opponents as extreme, even if many of us feel very strongly that we represent the middle ground.

1 comment:

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