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Candlestick Makers

Imagine someone sets up an internet service which is used to store files and there is some reason to think that some of the users of the service store material which might be covered by copyright even though there is a clear mechanism to remove that material. What would be an appropriate response in this situation?

Would it be to use the existing mechanism to have the copyrighted material removed? Would it be to notify the operator that the material exists? Or would it be to plan an extensive international operation to have a heavily armed paramilitary force invade the owner’s house, threaten his staff and family, and steal his assets?

Apparently if you are the police in an allegedly democratic country like New Zealand and are approached by the FBI you choose the last option, especially when your government is determined to “suck up” to the Americans as much as possible.

I’m talking about the recent raid on Kim Dotcom obviously, an action which the New Zealand police are currently being severely criticised for in the media, and righty so because the whole thing is a total disgrace. Why use an armed anti-terrorism force (and we all know alleged terrorism is a standard excuse to persecute anyone the authorities don’t like) when a simple visit from a couple of cops would have done? Apparently because the FBI wanted to set an example to anyone else who dared challenge the corrupt monopoly big business has now.

It has become increasingly obvious that this is a political setup, driven by big business in the US, and that the New Zealand police have just been the puppets chosen to carry out this illegal, undemocratic, and immoral action. In some ways you have to feel a bit sorry for the police, and in others not so much.

At the very least there should be several resignations from the senior ranks of police who authorised this complete overreaction. And the police staff who actually carried out the unnecessarily violence should be fired, and possibly prosecuted too. Oh and let’s have the minister of police resign as well – I’ve never liked her!

I do concede that Dotcom has cleverly manipulated the situation to gain public support and I say good for him! The police never hesitate to resort to misleading propaganda to support their various causes so why shouldn’t the other side as well?

I do want to say that I think the New Zealand police are overall OK (yes, just OK, that’s as positive as I can be) and that this is an exceptional case, but it is getting to the point where I am more concerned about the potential harm from a corrupt police force than I am about criminal activity! That’s not a healthy situation and one we would never have thought possible here a few years ago.

The police are trying to excuse their actions by suggesting their “target” (yes they use that term in the audio) might have been armed and dangerous or had a “doomsday device” (what an emotionally charged and inappropriate description that is) which could erase the contents of his servers.

How long does a thorough erase of that much data take? A real secure erase is a very slow process and even after the arrival by helicopter there would have been plenty of time for Dotcom to have initiated it because it took police a while to find him even though they knew the layout of the house. Also, no such device was found. Is this another “weapon of mass destruction” which only exists in the minds of the US authorities?

According to Kim Dotcom in a recent tweet (yes, I follow him): “It sucks being a candlestick maker in an electric light world. Unless you get government to pass laws that attack electric lights.” This is an obvious suggestion that the attack on his service was simply to protect the existing big media companies. But that implies his service is a challenge to them which also implies there is illegal material on his servers. Or maybe the implication is this is conventional movie and music corporations versus the internet in general.

Whatever the facts regarding Dotcom’s guilt or otherwise in relation to hosting copyrighted material the New Zealand’s police conduct was inexcusable. They have either watched too many American action movies and see themselves as some sort of Antipodean Dirty Harry, or they just followed instructions from the FBI (henceforth known as the Federal Bureau of Intimidation) to make an example of Dotcom as a warning to anyone else who might dare to challenge the existing big business model no matter how irrelevant and immoral it has become.

I really hope that things will get embarrassing enough that some senior police managers will resign. That’s who the message really needs to go to. They need to stop wasting public money, stop intimidating innocent citizens, and stop pandering to big business.

We need to let the candlestick makers fail before electric light can succeed.

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