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Posted 1 Jun 2000 00:00:00 UTC

Was it a Freudian slip? Or did the MPAA really mean to say they were engaged in "anti-privacy operations"? Whichever it turns out to be, in its latest court filing the MPAA has demonstrated an utter lack of respect and even understanding of the democratic process.

The claim is made repeatedly by Kevin A. Jacobsen, former FBI agent turned "Director of Anti-piracy" for the MPAA, that the upcoming depositions of agents of the MPAA must be kept confidential and sealed from the public. He cites everything from AOL hate mail to a friend of an MPAA employee being physically attacked in Malaysia. The MPAA apparently believes, or more accurately would like the COURT to believe, that merely releasing the names of MPAA employees who offer testimony will unleash some kind of a hacker death squad that will make their lives an utter hell. Furthermore, by talking about their work to combat piracy, they would be releasing valuable information that would undo their efforts.

And in one of the best quotes we've seen come out of this case, Jacobsen states "Just as the FBI needs to protect its agents, sources, and methods, so as to safeguard their safety and effectiveness, so too the MPAA needs to protect those engaged in its anti-privacy operations." Truer words may not have been uttered by the MPAA in a long time.

The danger of conducting these hearings in secret should be quite obvious. Is policy to be dictated by people unwilling to stand up to public scrutiny? Does the MPAA fear public reaction to their policies so much that they have to operate under a shroud of secrecy? Do they REALLY believe we, or our supporters, have anything to do with people being attacked in foreign countries or having credit reports tampered with? We believe these claims are as dubious as the alleged denial of service attack the MPAA claimed it was hit with a while back - no evidence of any sort was ever presented and, to many, it looked as if their site was simply taken offline for a few weeks. The MPAA seems to be doing everything possible to avoid the issues of the case and instead demonize its opposition.

It's clear from looking at the attachments to this filing that whatever "threats" have been received have been very juvenile in nature and are in no way allied with our position in the case, nor that of our supporters. In fact, the second attachment focuses on people who were frustrated by the fact that they couldn't find an email address to contact the MPAA at. In typical fashion, the MPAA ignores the very intelligent messages some of these people wrote and instead focuses on the fact that the writers wanted specific names of people to complain to - as if that was an inherently bad thing.

We want to see this case move forward. To suggest that it would be proper to conduct these proceedings in secret is a mockery of the legal system and an affront to democratic ideals. Let's hope we're able to continue in an open environment as these are issues which will affect everyone.

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