Sunday, November 22, 2009

3 Strikes for Corruption?

Lord Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill has in it the proposal to terminate the internet connections of people repeatedly accused of copyright infringement. It's claims that because this is such a big loss maker, and so time consuming and costly to enforce, justice should be circumvented and punishment be made to deter the actions from being committed.

There is, however, a bigger crime out there, that is harder to prove, and more costly to the country as a whole. It's name? CORRUPTION

It not just causes a huge loss in financial terms, with public funds being misappropriated into uses not benefiting the country as best it could. It also substantially undermines the whole political process, removing faith in the democratic process, and in the validity of the government. It is even, unlike copyright infringement, a criminal offense, so the general acceptability of corruption is zero.

Thus a 3-strikes procedure for corruption of a public official should be even higher on the agenda.

Unfortunately for Baron Mandelson, he's already got two past allegations of corruption on his record.
  1. In 1996 there was an incident with Geoffrey Robinson over a £373,000 interest free loan.
  2. In 2001 there was an incident with Srichand Hinduja
On both occasions he resigned his government position.

There have been further hints of corruption, such as
  • In 2004, he spent December 31st on the yacht of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, while he was a EU Commissioner for Trade, and Microsoft was being investigated for antitrust violations (antitrust being a substantial trade concern)
  • In 2008 it was alleged that he had maintained contact with a Russian businessman, Oleg Deripaska, and had, during his time as EU Trade Commissioner twice cut traffics that benefited Oleg's RusAl aluminium company, as well as swift entry visa's being arranged by one of Deripaska's senior employees when Mandelson wanted to visit.
  • Finally, this past summer, he reportedly showed no interest in the Digital Britain report, until after a holiday in Corfu, including meeting with Dreamworks co-founder David Geffin. On returning from this holiday, he then modified an already open consultation in order to speed the timeline up. Another action that has the appearance of corruption.
There are, then, 5 instances of corruption alleged. Were these simple copyright infringements, that would be suitable for strong sanctions to be automatically taken. However, since these are allegations of the serious crime of corruption, rather than the completely unproven damage alleged of copyright infringement.

With 5 'strikes' against him, he would be eligible for the appropriate counterpoint to termination of internet services – termination of liberty. Prison, in other words.

It won't happen though, because it strikes right at the heart of politicians; because corruption is a serious problem and copyright infringement is only a serious problem for those afraid of losing control; because too many government officials would end up in prison; and because current government officials, above all else, do not want to have to be honest, truthful, or accountable.

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