What if we treated election law like copyright?

While watching CTV's Question Period this morning, I started to think about how politicians would feel if we applied some of the same logic to election law as some seem to think is valid in copyright law. I sent out a few tweets on comparisons with isp-liability (Notice-and-take-down, 3-strikes, appeal process, Notice-and-notice).

I would hope to think that nobody would claim that copyright infringement is more serious than election law violations in a democratic society. It is interesting that there are calls to make the remedies in copyright far more immediate and in many cases far more severe.

I think a summary might be interesting.


Notice-and-notice
Copyright: ISP's charged with communicating between possibly anonymous ISP customer and alleged copyright holder. Remedy only after case makes it way through the courts.

Election: Elections Canada only needs to maintain a database of detailed information about nominated candidates, candidates, records filed by parties, etc. Remedy against alleged elections law violation only after case makes its way through the courts.

Notice-and-take-down
Copyright: ISP charged with removing alleged infringing material immediately based on accusation of alleged copyright holder. Accused then must appeal the take-down in order to get material reinstated. Timing of take-down may greatly impact publisher.

Election: Elections Canada must immediately remove nominated candidates from having party status, meaning those candidates cannot claim to have been nominated by the party. Accused then must appeal the take-down in order to get nominated candidates list reinstated. Timing may greatly impact party if take-down notice sent just as election called, as part or all of an election may happen without candidates able to campaign.

Some suggestions for 3-strikes/graduated response
Copyright: ISP must remove account of someone alleged to have infringed 3 times.

Election: Elections Canada must remove official/registered party status of party alleged to have violated election law 3 times. Sitting MPs allowed to sit as independents in interim while issue is resolved, and must run in any election as independents.

Alternative graduated response 2
Copyright: ISPs must remove account of someone found guilty 3 times of infringement.

Election: Elections Canada must remove official/registered party status of party found guilty 3 times of election law violations.

Alternative graduated response 3
Copyright: Statutory damages are graduated. First guilty finding liable for maximum $5K (for all copyrighted works), second a maximum 10K (for all copyrighted works), the third $20K (current statutory damages -- including for first non-commercial infringements, multiplied by number of works infringed), fourth $30K, and so-on.
Election: Remedies for election law violations would increase over each time guilt was found by the courts, up to a maximum of 5 times when the official/registered party status is revoked permanently and all current assets of party returned to taxpayers.

A discussion of "Electoral Rights Management" (ERM) systems would be even more telling.

Claiming that it is necessary to protect against election related fraud (financing or voting), the keys to computers and bank accounts involved in any way with elections are mandated to be turned over to a "trusted" third party.

Anyone who participates in elections without handing over keys are automatically accused of circumventing election law, liable for massive damages. It is made into a crime to provide commercial security services that protect computers and bank accounts from keys being controlled by these third parties.

The Liberal Party of Canada starts the iTunies ERM system, and the Conservative party of Canada starts the PaysForSure ERM system. If you want to donate to a political party or vote in an election you must subscribe to one of these systems, and hand over the keys to your computers and bank accounts to them.

Anyone who doesn't submit to an ERM system is accused in the media and by the two largest political parties of committing election fraud. You are accused of "hating democracy" or "hating our freedom" if you decide to opt out of ERM and participating in elections entirely.

There are transparent and accountable banking and voting options from the FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Secure Society) community that help solve the election fraud problem, and that do not require citizens to hand over their keys to a third party. This community is regularly attacked as somehow promoting election fraud by disagreeing with the claim that handing keys over to a third party is a valid way to protect the electoral process. Those who point out that ERM systems induce electoral fraud are ignored or attacked.

The attacks get even worse when the trustworthiness of the political parties behind the iTunies or PaysForSure are questions. They don't want it to be exposed that these parties are the entities most often accused and/or found guilty of violating election related laws.