Mar 9, 2009

OMG, your neighbor is a pirate (and so are you)

A poll published today by French newspaper Metro sheds some light on the percentage of people over 18 who have either illegally downloaded or used material from the Internet:
  • 26% of the general population
  • 37% of occasional Internet users
  • 45% of daily Internet users
And for people 18 to 24, the percentage is 64%...

This is similar to polls asking people if they're cheating on taxes or on their partner (I do neither, BTW!) : one can only assume that these figures are under-valued.

As of now, there are about 34 million Internet users in France, roughly half of which download illegal content. Interestingly, this is similar to the number of French drivers. In recent years, the government has deployed hundreds of automated speed traps, in an effort to reduce the death toll on roads & highways. Although annoying, they do work and they save thousand of lives.

Is this what the government has in mind to stop piracy? Automated detection on majors Internet hubs (ISP, telcos, peering points, etc)? Maybe, although there are a few differences:
  • drunk downloading never killed anyone (except bad music)
  • faking your IP address is easier than altering your license plate,
  • borrowing a network connection is easier than stealing a car,
  • hiding in traffic is easier on the Internet than on the highway,
  • authorities can only watch roads they know (re: darknets, etc)
Millions of people may be wrong... but stopping them is going to be challenging.

And there could be a lot of political leverage on this issue, especially with younger voters. Elections for the European Parliament are coming, let's see if any of our brilliant politicians is clever enough to figure it out :)

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