I have visited the US several times and I always enjoy being there. What I enjoy less is entering the United states.
A hasty last sip of water before tossing the bottle, take off your shoes, your jacket, you belt, laptop out of bag, keys out of pockets, go through the security gate, collect everything, don’t forget anything, did somebody steal my cell phone? All while the poor sods of the TSA are continuously harassing you and yelling at you (oh poor TSA, are we mean to you?)
Moreover, while going through immigration they take your picture and fingerprints, and ask stupid questions like “Why do you need to be on this business trip, can’t you do that by telephone or email?”
In Brazil they also fingerprint visitors, but with a twist: they only fingerprint US citizens. The good-old eye-for-an-eye approach, how satisfying. A US citizen, going through customs in Brazil, noticing the separate line for US citizens, made a big stink about how discriminatory this is.Yes you’re right,they don’t discriminate in the US. They just treat everybody equally badly.
Discrimination irks people. In our society discrimination is really one of the strongest taboos. But unfortunately discrimination laws are only within countries, not between countries.
That’s why it was so upsetting when last.fm’s announced that their online streaming radio will be for-pay for all countries except the US, the UK and Germany. I think Last.fm is a really valuable service, I discovered lots of new music through it, and it’s probably worth paying for. But why do I pay for something that our German neighbors, less than 50 km away, get for free?
You know what, I don’t need Last.fm. I can get my digital music from many places. Let’s see, where else can I get digital music? Oh I know, let’s buy music from the amazon.co.uk mp3 store, great idea!
DVD’s are region locked, hulu.com and audible.com are only available in the US, where does it end?
The root of all this discrimination is of course the opaque and complicated licensing deals that are required by the media industry. If you do not live in a large single market area (apparently everywhere but the US, UK or Germany), licensing deals become so complex that many companies don’t even bother. It’s all that is wrong with living in a permission culture
Of course it has always been like that. But in a connected world where borders are disappearing the contrast is particularly stark.
One of the founding principles of the Eurpean Union is Freedom of movement of goods and persons, that is why the EU was investigating apple for separating the iTunes music store between the UK and the rest of the continent. Last.fm and Amazon mp3 are clearly violating this principle as well.
I wonder where I can file a complaint?