“Violate a Copyright? A Boy Scout May Be Watching”

This article on page B3 of the New York Times in the July 18th edition is reminscent of the sort of citizen reporting that happened in the McCarthy era. It is Hong Kong this time where young people in otherwise benign organizations are being recruited to report internet sites dispensing unauthorized copies of songs and movies.

The youth reporting is the grass roots end of the chain of reporting that funnels information up to the government. The Customs officials will then verify the internet site and then relay the details on the trade groups such as the RIAA, MPAA and the International Federation of Photographers. The identity of the reporting youngster (average age 11) will be kept secret, or so the Hong Kong government promises.

The Scout Association of Hong Kong reports that this campaign is a great vehicle to teach children good citizenship. The Hong Kong police department defends the campaign saying that it is no different than asking citizens to tell police when they see a crime committed.

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