Should we extradite TVShack founder Richard O'Dwyer?
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Labour MP Tom Watson are the latest to voice their opinions
RICHARD O'DWYER, a 24-year-old Sheffield Hallam student, faces up to 10 years in prison in the United States for setting up TVShack.net, which links to sites showing television programmes and films online.
Home Secretary Theresa May signed an order for his extradition to the US for alleged copyright infringement in March. But this week Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called on May to stop the extradition and launched a petition that has garnered more than 49,000 signatures since Sunday.
Wales says America is trying to prosecute a UK citizen for "an alleged crime which took place on UK soil" and is adamant that the internet "must not tolerate censorship in response to mere allegations of copyright infringement".
Today, Labour MP Tom Watson, a driving force behind the phone hacking investigation into News International, has added his voice to the campaign.
Watson told The Guardian that extraditing O'Dwyer would undermine public confidence in a treaty designed to combat terrorism. "But let's also be honest about what is going on at the heart of this case," he added. "A generation for whom the net is not a 'new' technology are being hung out by an older generation of lawmakers who do not understand the new reality of the connected digital planet."
While recent extradition cases, such as that of Gary McKinnon, have attracted controversy, The Guardian says that in no other case does the gap “between the alleged crime and the punishment sought by US prosecutors yawn as wide”.
O'Dwyer is "at the heart of the titanic running battle between the Hollywood giants – struggling to keep their beleaguered business model intact in the online era – and a new digital generation unwilling to play by the old rules," writes the Guardian’s James Ball.
A spokesman for the Home Office insists it has "effective, fair and balanced extradition arrangements with the US and other international partners" and that UK courts had found "no statutory bars to [O'Dwyer’s] surrender under the Extradition Act 2003".
O'Dwyer has appealed against the decision of the district judge and an appeal hearing will be held in due course.