Attacking the Money Supply to Fight Against Online Illegal Content?
32 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2012
Date Written: September 15, 2012
Although the Internet has provided economic growth, new forms of social exchanges and political revolutions, it has also been the field for new types of fraud and rights infringements. When the people who upload or exploit content in an illegal way do so for profit, if it were possible to cut off the financing they use, this might be an effective means of combating the spread of their activities.
Original mechanisms have already been invented to combat online fraud; what they have in common is that they target the profits made by the fraudsters through their illegal activities. These mechanisms were the result of either self-regulation – as the example of the battle against the fraudulent practice of domain name tasting shows – or legislation – it is the way the United States fight against illegal online gambling.
There are two main types of revenue made from online activities: money paid directly to service providers and money received indirectly through monetization. In studying the possibility of targeting the financial circuits that benefit those engaged in an illegal activity, direct and indirect revenue must be distinguished. It appears that the identification of a payment made through these intermediaries, a payment that profits a particular individual, whether known or unknown and who operates an illegal online activity, may lead to the suspension of the payment if it can be established that it encouraged this activity or brought profit to the person behind it.
An individual who notices that an illegal activity is in partial or full infringement of his rights could notify the intermediary(ies) used by the illegal business to receive payments. Such intermediary(ies) would then take one measure or more. Intermediaries would be compelled to suspend payments to the operators of illegal sites in cases where it is clear that the beneficiary is engaged in the monetization of patently illegal content, with due process rules that would guarantee the rights of the person affected.
This position paper aims at engaging a debate about mechanisms that would be preventive rather than curative, target the financial flows and not the information flows, involve a critical category of intermediaries which are not currently at the center of internet regulation though they are at the center of its economy.
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