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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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North Korea, land of the free?

6 March 2013

A most unlikely news story has flashed around the world's wires over the past couple of days -- and it's fooled more than a few commentators.

According to the reports, The Pirate Bay is about to relocate its operations to the newly connected nation of North Korea, on the invitation of that country's leader.

Imagine the irony if the world's most oppressive nation were to become the world's least restrictive internet environment -- thumbing its nose at the conventions and treaties by which the rest of the planet operates.

However, on closer investigation, it appears that the story is, at best, a terrible misunderstanding.

Apparently a post on the TPB website's blog claimed that Kim Jong-Un had offered a home and sanctuary for the site and its servers but this claim has been made before -- some 6 years ago.

All indications are however, that there is no more veracity to this week's claim than when it was first made back in 2007.

Given the levels of control, suppression and surveillance now being applied to the Net and its contents by "big brother" governments around the globe, the prospect of a "hands-off" host would probably be incredibly attractive to many individuals, groups and businesses.

Kim Dotcom for one, would find such a country to be the perfect place to run his Mega services -- the USA and other countries having no presence or power to interfere.

I've already written about attempts to create just such an independent entity in the form of the Principality of Sealand but this failed for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that there just wasn't the demand for such freedoms.

However, the world is a much different place today and with SOPA, ACTA, SkyNet and a raft of other "clampdowns" on Net freedoms I suspect that a totally hands-off (some might say "lawless") environment from which to run an online venture could be a viable commercial operation.

Let's face it, the internet is now big, very-very big!

Kim Dotcom made a very useful fortune by allegedly "facilitating" the trading of copyrighted material through is MegaUpload service. Imagine how much could be made by operating a completely open and unfettered version of the same, from a location that didn't give a hoot about copyright laws or other restrictions.

And North Korea might be a great place to create such a venture, given that it's a nation which loves to thumb its nose at the West and certainly needs the huge revenues that such a service might produce.

Perhaps, if Kim Jong-Un really wants to disempower the West or start a massive war then he ought to abandon his nuclear weapons program and instead, invest that money and effort into creating a Net-based service that strikes at the very heart of the US administration's powerbase -- the MPAA/RIAA.

Not only would this really piss off a lot of politicians and executives, it would likely turn Kim into cyber-citizen of the year within certain circles. N.Korea would be catapulted from pariah to celebrity superstar in the eyes of those who thrive on getting their media, games and other software for free.

I wonder what provisions the USA and other nations have on their statutes for blocking access to an entire nation on the grounds that they're not signatories to global treaties (such as those covering copyright). Would attempts to implement such blocks simply highlight the Net's ability to reroute around "damage" such as that and leave egg on the face of the politicians who tried it?

Gosh, 2013 could turn into a very exciting year!

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