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Web lovers say Nein! to German dog persecution

And other ways in which the Net is empowering the small man

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The Internet's unprecedented ability to pull geographically diverse but likeminded folk together has generally had a bad press - paedophiles, criminals, football hooligans. They all use the Web as a cover for anti-social behaviour, strengthening each others' resolve for their perverted desires.

But good, honest God-fearing folk have discovered the Net too. And they're using it to call people (usually government ministers with stupid ideas) to account. Recently in the UK, the campaign to reduce the enormous tax placed on petrol by the Treasury has taken off, partly due to its Web site.

Now, it's Germany's turn. The German government is putting through legislation on dangerous dogs. There have been a few highly publicised attacks on people by dogs and the government decided to do something about it. We had the self-same situation in the UK a few years ago. That also resulted in new legislation - muzzles to be worn in public, stronger sentences for bad dog owners etc etc.

However, the enduring violent streak in German politicians and citizens has come through, causing the destruction of thousands of dogs of those breeds deemed dangerous. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier is bad, so it must die. Whereas a Rottweiler is fine, so it may live. This crazy logic has naturally led to dog lovers from all over the world going ballistic.

It gets worse - German officials have suggested people grass up owners with such dogs. This led to one dog being doused in petrol and set fire to while its owner was beaten up. Another two dogs have been stabbed. It doesn't take much to get the Germans in a mob frenzy.

Hence, through the Internet, protests have been planned, boycotts built up and politicians mass emailed. Coverage of the possibilities and problems of the situation have been highlighted, bypassing a media that can decide its own agenda and has good reason to keep in with government. The suggested legislation is being poured over and taken to pieces.

Have we found the real democratising use of the Internet? A proper, independent and people-led review of government legislation. Let's face it, the Lords and Commons no longer have the power, time or inclination to do the very job they were put there for.

In the UK meanwhile, the Professionals Contractors Group - the people leading the charge against the government's IR35 legislation - was put forward for four awards in a New Media awards ceremony. It didn't win any, mind. But it did get a "special mention" because of the growth and speed with which the group formed credible opposition arguments to the legislation.

Ain't technology great? ®

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