File-Sharing Countermeasures are Counterproductive

Last month saw the battle for Internet freedom reach new heights as millions of people and thousands of businesses came together to protest SOPA, the overreaching anti-file sharing bill creeping its way through US legislature.

One day after the Jan. 17th SOPA blackout protest, prominent file-hosting site MegaUpload was shut down. MegaUpload owner Kim Dotcom was extradited to the US and millions of his assets have now been seized.

So what impact did the US Government’s global exercise have on unauthorized file-sharing around the world? Close to zero, according to networking gurus Deepfield, who write “File sharing has not gone away. It did not even decrease much in North America.”

In fact, the brutish take down of Megaupload caused “file sharing to become staggeringly less efficient.” Now, instead of terabytes of North American MegaUpload traffic going to US servers, “most file sharing traffic now comes from Europe over far more expensive transatlantic links.”

By all accounts, this would seem like a failure. Yet, sadly, this kind of Internet censorship has all the makings of a lasting American policy.

Take the war on drugs, as an example. Despite dumping tens of billions of dollars annually chasing illegal substances, America has yet to create even the slightest dent in the flow of drugs.

But that hasn’t stopped them from manufacturing an entire industry around drug prohibition, with task forces and mega-jails to reap in huge profits. This, along with a propaganda machine to keep enough of the public misinformed, is all it takes to keep the whole racket ongoing.

Now, with file-sharing, the US has a new enemy to wage war on. Another target to demonize in the media, more culprits to fill of the jails, and more power handed over to any government agency promising to protect the public from this scourge.

Of course these agencies will not have any lasting impact, but that’s not the goal. Instead, the file-sharing ‘pigs’ will be allowed to grow. Then, when plump and juicy, some well-funded government goons will swoop in and slaughter the swine, leaving the door open for the next one, and the next, and the next.

It’s Prohibition 101, and without enough public uproar, they’ll have no problem running the same tired play ad nauseum. Either speak out now or get your sick bags ready, people.

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