Kim Dotcom, Sovereignty, and Taxes
For those that do not know who Kim Dotcom is…
Kim Dotcom (yes, that is his legal name now) was a founder of MegaUpload. The site was used for a variety of file sharing needs; everything from sharing source code of open source software, to pirated movies. He is currently facing extradition in New Zealand. The United States is fighting to extradite Kim and several others that were senior or key members of MegaUpload in order to press charges for copyright infringement, racketeering, and a few “conspiracy to commit” charges.
Now… he was definitely in the wrong. He knew how the service was being used and allowed it to continue. I completely disagree with the idea that he was complicit though. The site offered a way to report content for violation of a variety of things, including copyright infringement. This was used regularly by a verity of production companies in order to make sure their content stayed off the MegaUpload site. I even used this form to have content removed several times.
Regardless of his complicity in the issue, he is now being tried for extradition… and there is the problem.
The tax payers of The United States of America are paying to fight for the extradition of someone from New Zealand to the United States in order to face charges of copyright infringement and racketeering. This was not a person that was murdering people, extorting people, stealing credit card information, or anything of the like. He is charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. If convicted… the United States citizens will then foot the bill to house, feed, clothe, and entertain him for the duration of his sentence.
Even that is not my biggest concern here… (though that is a pretty big one).
The extradition of a person from their country of residence for a crime committed in the digital space that is not being charged in their host country is a HORRIBLE idea. You are taking digital presence as physical. You are also taking away the ability for the host country to enforce their own laws and putting the burden on them to enforce the laws of a third party; not for a crime that is impacting the health and walfare of another human, but for facilitating the copy and pasting of data.
Do not get me wrong. Theft is theft and I do not condone it in any way. If Kim set foot on U.S.A. soil, I would say they have every right to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. I would even say the U.S.A. should work with New Zealand to try and prosecute him for any crimes committed that are violation of New Zealand laws.
Keep in mind that they are not saying he is the person uploading the copyrighted material… they are saying he didn’t actively stop other people from doing so.
When you take the right of a country to decide what laws are enacted and enforced, you negate the very existence of the government by which laws are created. You erode the sovereign borders of the country. Who decides what countries are allowed to encroach upon the rights of another country? Not a country that has been internationally recognized as a threat, but a country internationally recognized as an ally.
Where does that stop?
We are allies with several countries that enforce laws stating no anti-government communication is allowed. In Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, and several other countries, it is illegal to send anti-religious email, or in some places, even say something that negatively reflects on the government or a specific religion. These are countries that we have extradition treaties with as well. If that communication is completed on a U.S.A. hosted server, do they have the right to fight for extradition as well? In many of these places, laws have possible death penalties for these infractions. So, who decides what?
Granted, the above is relating to blasphemy laws, but extending that concept back to copyright laws, why was New Zealand not the country to decide on the enforcement of New Zealand laws on New Zealand citizens? Why do American citizens have to foot the bill to enforce a United States law and imprison someone in the United States for a crime that is a violation of New Zealand law that was committed on New Zealand soil by a New Zealand citizen?