For years, the US government has condemned countries like China and Iran for their clampdown on Internet use. But now, the impact of America’s new censorship laws could be far worse — effectively blocking sites to every Internet user across the globe.
Last year, a similar Internet censorship bill was killed before reaching the US Senate floor, but it’s now back in a different form. Copyright laws already exist and are enforced by courts. But this new law goes much further — granting the government and big corporations enormous powers to force service providers and search engines to block websites based just on allegations of violations — without a trial or being found guilty of any crime!
US free speech advocates have already raised the alarm, and some key Senators are trying to gather enough support to stop this dangerous bill. We have no time to lose. Let’s stand with them to ensure American lawmakers preserve the right to a free and open Internet as an essential way for people around the world to exchange ideas, share communication and work collectively to build the world we want.
Op-Ed: Blacklist Bill allows Feds to remove websites from Internet
The House version of the Internet Blacklist Bill was released October 26, 2011, with no effort to fix problems that existed in the Senate version. A violation of the First Amendment, it is contrary to official positions of internet freedom and censorship.
“Under the Internet Blacklist Bill — S.968, formally called the PROTECT IP Act — the Department of Justice would force search engines, browsers, and service providers to block users’ access to websites that have been accused of copyright infringement — without even giving them a day in court.” (Demand Progress)
The S.968 bill is considered dangerous and short-sighted due to its broad writing that covers a multitude of issues, bringing danger to not only Internet security but is considered a serious threat to free online speech and innovation. The Censorship-galore Department describes it as an attempt to build the Great Firewall of America, requiring service providers to block access to certain websites.
This bill could shut down YouTube, Twitter and many other social websites that bring together the Occupy movements across the nation and world—any user-generated content site where the law can make the sites’ owners legally responsible for the posted content of its users.
Additionally, the bill could shut down music storage lockers and cloud-based products, while its broad-based terminology includes provisions that allow selected websites to be charged with felony charges for streaming unlicensed content—video game play-throughs, coverage of band performances and karaoke videos.
“The bill also threatens to take away Americans’ rights to safe, affordable medications by blocking access to licensed and regulated pharmacies outside of the U.S. that require a prescription.”
As reported to Tech Dirt the CCIA, CEA and NetCoalition prepared a joint letter to members of Congress who had originally sponsored the bill, saying that on behalf of the technology industry they had never been approached about the bill.
This is ironic, as Protect IP is basically driven by the demands of the entertainment industry. Yet the bill will dramatically reduce jobs, job growth and innovation in the country—something promised by the GOP when they were voted into office and something not yet seen.
The House had previously agreed to meet with organizations that represented the tech industry and who would be most affected by Protect IP. However, the House has chosen to rush the bill through this past Wednesday without listening to professional opinions or advice from the tech industry, individuals who feel strongly that the bill is “jobs-destroying,” “innovative-binding,” “and internet-breaking.”
Letter to the GOP House from CCIA, CEA and NetCoalition:
October 24, 2011
Via Facsimile and E-Mail
The Honorable Lamar Smith Chairman Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr. Ranking Member Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte Chairman Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mel Watt Ranking Member Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Smith and Representatives Conyers, Goodlatte, and Watt:
We want to thank you for convening a meeting on Friday in regard to the legislative proposal to address rogue foreign websites that infringe the rights of U.S. IP owners. We also appreciate the time your staff has devoted to this important and complex issue. We regard this initial meeting as a productive step toward building consensus around a solution, and we urge that the Committee await introducing legislation until the affected stakeholders can comment meaningfully on the specifics of the approach.
One point of consensus that appeared to emerge in Friday’s meeting was that in an area as complex as Internet regulation, the specific text by which the framework is implemented matters greatly. Thus, the stakeholders who stand to be directly affected by the regulatory framework under consideration should be consulted on the text.
For this reason, we urge you to reconvene affected stakeholders and experts when a draft has been prepared, and utilize the input that they may provide before introducing legislation. Our industries remain committed to working with all stakeholders to craft a legislative proposal that addresses this issue without undue collateral damage.
Sincerely, Computer & Communications
Industry Association (CCIA)
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
With the Internet Blacklist Bill literally shoved through the House, those same copyright holders will be able to cut off advertising and payment processing to such sites. Without court review.
Disastrous IP Legislation Is Back – And It’s Worse than Ever
We’ve reported here often on efforts to ram through Congress legislation that would authorize massive interference with the Internet, all in the name of a fruitless quest to stamp out all infringement online. Today Representative Lamar Smith upped the ante, introducing legislation, called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or “SOPA,” that would not only sabotage the domain name system but would also threaten to effectively eliminate the DMCA safe harbors that, while imperfect, have spurred much economic growth and online creativity.
As with its Senate-side evil sister, PROTECT-IP, SOPA would require service providers to “disappear” certain websites, endangering Internet security and sending a troubling message to the world: it’s okay to interfere with the Internet, even effectively blacklisting entire domains, as long as you do it in the name of IP enforcement. Of course blacklisting entire domains can mean turning off thousands of underlying websites that may have done nothing wrong. And in what has to be an ironic touch, the very first clause of SOPA states that it shall not be “construed to impose a prior restraint on free speech.” As if that little recitation could prevent the obvious constitutional problem in what the statute actually does.
But it gets worse. Under this bill, service providers (including hosting services) would be under new pressure to monitor and police their users’ activities. Websites that simply don’t do enough to police infringement (and it is not at all clear what would qualify as “enough”) are now under threat, even though the DMCA expressly does not require affirmative policing. It creates new enforcement tools against folks who dare to help users access sites that may have been “blacklisted,” even without any kind of court hearing. The bill also requires that search engines, payment providers (such as credit card companies and PayPal), and advertising services join in the fun in shutting down entire websites. In fact, the bill seems mainly aimed at creating an end-run around the DMCA safe harbors. Instead of complying with the DMCA, a copyright owner may now be able to use these new provisions to effectively shut down a site by cutting off access to its domain name, its search engine hits, its ads, and its other financing even if the safe harbors would apply.
And that’s only the beginning: we haven’t even started on the streaming provisions.
We’ll have more details on the bill in the next several days but suffice it to say, this is the worst piece of IP legislation we’ve seen in the last decade — and that’s saying something. This would be a good time to contact your Congressional representative and tell them to oppose this bill! Source
We all pay to access the Internet and we all should have a say in it.
Say no to censorship and keep the web as we know it.
For anyone around the world you can go HERE and sign a Petition to stop the US Censorship.
Silicon Valley legislators oppose online piracy act (SFGate)