The FBI have "cloned" Kim Dotcom's computer hard drive and taken the copies to the USA, having previously denied them to him, New Zealand's 3News reported today. This is in contravention of the Crown's assurance that the evidence would not be supplied to the FBI or the Crown before them, or removed to the USA without an advanced warning. So what happened? And what will happen next?
The Crown asserted that it had been made clear from the start that the FBI intended to take the documents back to America, but Dotcom's defense team had sought assurances that the material would not be supplied to the Crown or the FBI before them. The Crown had agreed that this wouldn't happen without prior warning.
"Much of what we have been arguing for is effectively subverted," complained Paul Davison, QC, at the High Court in Auckland. "This is a matter of grave concern... the whole process is totally off the rails." He added, looking as if he'd just woken up in the Twilight Zone, "If anyone thought they could arrive in this country and provide a request to our New Zealand police to ...have them descend on Mr. Dotcom from the sky and rip him and his family out of their house and put him in custody and take away his property and take away his money and put him in a position where he was going to be deprived of access to his information to resist extradition then they made a grave mistake."
Does the Crown and the FBI still have a case?
This latest fumble on the part of Dotcom's adversaries can only serve to compound his case against them:
- the FBI and the police exceeded their authority
- they have disregarded due process
- they haven't got a strong enough case to continue with the extradition, let alone the prosecution
- which is probably why they want the files wiped
This is a classic example of what happens when you let big business set policy. The police and law enforcement groups have been working in tandem with the RIAA and MPAA and their associates using evidence supplied by them. Given that they have a very poor grasp of mathematics, is it any wonder that the heavy-handed attacks they make on file-sharing websites or websites that link to them often backfire?
Meanwhile, New Zealand's Attorney-General's lawyer, Mike Ruffin, has told the High Court that a set of digital images copied from the computers had been taken to the US. "The actual items seized under the search warrant remain in New Zealand,'' he said, after claiming that he had been unaware of the assurances to Mr. Davison. Meanwhile, the New Zealand police have been left holding the baby in the form of an undertaking of liability. It remains to be seen whether or not this latest incident will have a bearing on it.
TPP and the continuing IPR racket
Meanwhile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations continue apace. Apparently, they welcome feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org so I'll be sure to drop them a line to explain why this is a very bad idea. USTR has announced that the next round of negotiations will take place in San Diego from July 2 - 10. If the treaty goes through as the upward-ratcheting nightmare we fear it is, cases like Kim Dotcom's will increase and even linking to file-sharing sites will see more people being arrested and threatend with draconian punishments. Which means sooner or later, they'll come for you, dear reader, just for viewing this page.
There is a solution
We must act to stop and reverse the upward ratcheting of intellectual property rights (IPR). The Internet Freedom Movement is a page on Google Plus [full disclosure: I'm one of the admins] where we post news of what is going on in the digital world — and what we can do about it. Bookmark it and circle us. We're also on Twitter and Facebook. We can fight this madness, but we can't do it alone. Join us and keep the pressure on our politicians to remind them they're supposed to serve us, not the other way around.
The Pirate Party is the only party that stands up for digital rights. While it's fairly new and often accused of not having a broad enough range of policies to meet the needs of everyone, I would argue that a) that's not true and b) sorting IPR law out to break up the power of the monopolists would actually help to resolve the other problems that people are facing.
We can't just sit here and do nothing, and protesting and signing petitions does actually work. I look forward to seeing you at the IFM, and when the elections come around, if there's a Pirate candidate standing, vote for him or her. Failing that, the Greens support us so vote for them.