Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has started a petition against the extradition of British student Richard O'Dwyer, who faces being sent to the US over alleged copyright infringement.
At the time of writing, the Change.org petition — begun on Sunday — had already amassed more than 10,000 signatures. The petition targets prime minister David Cameron, deputy PM Nick Clegg and home secretary Theresa May, who signed O'Dwyer's extradition order in March.
O'Dwyer ran a website called TVShack that did not host copyrighted material itself, but that rather acted as a search engine linking to sites that did. The 24-year-old computer science student, first arrested a year ago, does not face prosecution in the UK. Even if it were to be proved, copyright infringement is a civil matter here.
However, the US says that some of its citizens accessed copyrighted material through TVShack, so O'Dwyer should be extradited there to face criminal charges of copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.
In 'war on terror' arrangements highlighted by the cases of Gary McKinnon and others, the US can demand that the UK extradite its citizens there, without having to show evidence of the crime they are accused of committing. The UK cannot demand the same of US citizens.
In a Guardian comment piece published on Sunday, Wales said O'Dwyer was "the human face" of the struggle between the content industry and the general public.
There is a disparity here that ought to raise concerns at the highest levels of government in both the US and UK.– Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia
"Due to heavy lobbying and much money lavished on politicians, until very recently the content industry has won every battle," Wales said, noting that the 'public' had won its first victory by defeating SOPA/PIPA. Wikipedia was also heavily involved in that battle, blacking out its website for a day in protest at the proposed US legislation.
"Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face felony charges," Wales said on Sunday. "No US citizen has ever been brought to the UK for alleged criminal activity on US soil. There is a disparity here that ought to raise concerns at the highest levels of government in both the US and UK."