An “Internet Blackout” is what Kiwi activists and
artists call their strike against New Zealand’s “3
strikes law” which will be effective on February 28.
The “3 strikes law” is a law which applies to
internet pirates. Alleged violators will have
internet access cut-off after they have been caught
with 3 acts of piracy.
The protest movement’s name seems to have been taken from
the country’s number one rugby team, the All Blacks.
The Kiwi group called the Creative Freedom
Foundation agrees that infringement of copyright is
wrong, but it does not agree to the proposed penalty which is ISP disconnection. It
believes the penalty does not fit the crime.
This is especially so since law of New Zealand relies on the
copyright holder’s evidence and allegations. The 3 strikes
law has no provision for oversight by the judge or any other
kind of process for the accused to defend himself against
the evidence of infringement of P2P copyright.
The Copyright Act of 1984 of New Zealand was amended last
year in several ways. But section 92A is by far the most
controversial. It states that, internet service providers
should have the capacity to implement the law by having the
ability to terminate the accounts registered under the ISP
if that client is a repeat offender of this law.
Internet service providers argue that this section of the
law is not very clear, but they have no choice except to
follow it hence are coordinating with copyrights-holders to
find a middle ground which is more acceptable to all parties
The Creative Freedom website holds that infringement of
copyright is wrong, but it disagrees with the punishment
which would mean that individuals, hospitals, and schools
may suffer the loss of their internet connection based
merely on accusations.
The Creative Freedom group staged a protest on the grounds
of the Parliament of Wellington and showed state officials
their petition which contained over 12,000 signatures.
Protestors arrived wearing placards in plain black,
replicating the "Internet blackout" started by
A major blackout of the web was
held on February 23 of the same year wherein people
were encouraged to substitute their blog page or
site with that of a simple black page.
Twitter members had taken to replacing their
avatars with totally black ones as a signal that they are
for this movement. The British actor, Stephen Fry, who has
over two hundred thousand followers on Twitter, has joined
the campaign, his bio has been replaced with a black box.
It is generally believed that this kind of protest may not
be the thing to call the attention of national politicians
to change the law. It is most unlikely that blacking out
Facebook and Twitter profiles will mean much to these
people. If the New Zealand internet industry’s complaints
have not been heeded, it is improbable that black avatars
will be more effective. Furthermore, actual signatures
instead of e-signatures (which, as politicians know, are
much easier t collect) would have been more effective.