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US Congress considering bill to censor internet.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

The US Congress is right now considering a law which would effectively shut down a site's revenue stream based on one IP owner's say so and the only way the site owner could get it back up by a lengthy expensive lawsuit. 


The bill seeks to cut off the revenue stream and force ISPs and search engines to effectively hide the site in question.


An ad network or payment processor forced to cut off service previously was guaranteed the ability to "determine the means to communicate such action" to its customers. That language has disappeared.


Regular users could lose a personal website.

Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, posted an analysis on his personal Web site about how SOPA could affect average Internet users. If someone stores photos, documents, or blog posts on a Web site that's accused under SOPA of copyright infringement, those files "can be obliterated from his view without him having any remedy," Macgillivray writes.


More and more power would be handed to the corporations and the government.  Small site owners could be shut down by something that could very likely a fair use of copyright.;posts

SOPA's free speech risks were illustrated last week when the Department of Homeland Security abruptly decided to relinquish control of a hip-hop music blog called, which it seized in November 2010. Even though DaJaz1 was never found liable for a single instance of copyright infringement, its domain name had nevertheless been inaccessible for over a year.


We already have a messed up patent system that stifles innovation.  Blocking web sites because the corporations think there might be a violation without have to really prove it in a process causes self-censoring, a threat to consumer sites, and endangers newer sites from launching.

post #2 of 8

Yup, there is a lot of money and power up for grabs, and if there isn't sufficient public outcry then they can and will make it happen.   They will typically try to justify this by saying "its for the children" inventing some child pornography case for example.  


Examples of abuse:

1) Apple has already coerced police departments to violate the law and do their personal bidding, such as in the case of the Gizmodo editor who got a hold of the iPhone 4 that one of their interns forgot at a bar while intoxicated at a birthday party.  With this law in place, they would likely simply use their influence to censor any leaked information about their products via the four major ISPs within minutes, while destroying those merely doing as the press is supposed to and offering sneak-peaks when available.  


2) There are a plethora of sites that rely on thousands of contributors from the internet, but under this law a single infraction from one of those users could have the entire site blacklisted.   Such a threat would cause social networking, search engine, forum, and video/image hosting sites like Youtube to create draconian policies being extremely harsh and unreasonable with its customers for fear of lost revenue.    This also would more likely be used against smaller hosts and startups that could not afford the legal fees to defend themselves, stifling innovation and competition.   In other words "fair use" would be irrelevant, as sites would gravitate to "better safe than sorry" and create bogus rules.


3) Smaller news outlets and blogs would likely experience the same effect as "the great firewall of China" that severely limits free speech.   It is bad enough that online news outlets and bloggers are under law not considered journalists and thus not afforded any protection under freedom of the press, although they are clearly and rapidly becoming the most widely used news outlets.    Controversial sites such as wikileaks that leaks information about war crimes, human rights abuses, and political corruption around the globe would surely be the first to be banned.


My fear is that not enough people will realize how serious this really is.  sigh.gif

post #3 of 8

Not that it has stopped them before, especially when it comes to "national security", but Laurence Tribe, the professor of constitutional law at Harvard, has also declared it to be unconstitutional:


The notice-and-termination procedure of Section 103(a) runs afoul of the “prior restraint” doctrine, because it delegates to a private party the power to suppress speech without prior notice and a judicial hearing.
This provision of the bill would give complaining parties the power to stop online advertisers and credit card processors from doing business with a website, merely by filing a unilateral notice accusing the site of being “dedicated to theft of U.S. property” – even if no court has actually found any infringement.
The immunity provisions in the bill create an overwhelming incentive for advertisers and payment processors to comply with such a request immediately upon receipt. The Supreme Court has made clear that “only a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of expression [and] only a procedure requiring a judicial determination suffices to impose a valid final restraint.” Freedman v. Maryland , 380 U.S. 51, 58 (1965). “[P]rior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.” Nebraska Press Assn. v. Stuart , 427 U.S. 539, 559 (1976).


post #4 of 8
Sounds like a suppression of free speech to me. It also smells of "guilty until proven innocent", which is contrary to the laws in this country. Very bad idea.
post #5 of 8
They are going to vote on one version of it tomorrow, PIPA. Wikipedia, amongst other websites, are going black tomorrow ('s already black) to protest the bills. Earl found a good, short, easy to understand explanation of what the bills would entail here:

At least the White House has come out against it. Hopefully that still carries some weight in Washington...or at least more weight than RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) who are really strongarming the federal government to pass this trash heap into law. They can't go after the foreign websites that are hosting pirated content, so they want to come down hard on anything in the States that might (or might not) knowingly (or not) support or have any inkling of involvement with such websites. In the process, these bills would open the doors to censorship across the internet. MPAA and RIAA don't care. Hopefully the people in Washington do, or at least care what their constituents think.

If you are a US Citizen and disagree with SOPA and PIPA, WRITE YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO LET THEM KNOW!! Here's a link that makes it so easy there's no excuse for you not to be involved in the political & lawmaking process.
post #6 of 8

Thanks, Heidi.


post #7 of 8

This needs to be posted in the lounge so more people can see. I think the name of this bill makes people thing that if they dont pirate music or tv shows or movies they are safe and wont even notice! But they are soooo very wrong!  SIGN IT! Call your Reps. Spread the word on facebook! Make your voice heard!

post #8 of 8
Keep writing to your members of Congress, as it seems to be working:

Web Protests Piracy Bills, and Senators Change Course
Online protests on Wednesday quickly cut into Congressional support for anti-Web piracy measures as lawmakers abandoned and rethought their backing for legislation that pitted new media interests against some of the most powerful old-line commercial interests in Washington. A freshman senator, Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, was first out of the starting gate Wednesday morning with his announcement that he would no longer back anti-Internet piracy legislation he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure that had been set for a test vote next week.

SOPA Protests Gain Steam as Web Activists Flex Growing Clout
Internet-based protests against a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills gained momentum Wednesday, as several lawmakers dropped their support in the face of widespread opposition from the tech industry. Until recently, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both aimed at cracking down on web piracy, seemed destined for certain passage. The bills enjoyed wide support in Congress, as well as strong backing from Hollywood, the recording industry, and major media companies. But a surprisingly strong web-based opposition campaign, spurred in part by the Internet industry, has put the bills’ supporters on the defensive.

Neither SOPA or PIPA is dead, but the intense push-back demonstrates the increasing power of web-based activists in debates over public policy and commerce. On Wednesday, as thousands of websites went black to protest the measures, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, withdrew his support for PIPA, which he had co-sponsored. Shortly thereafter, Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, also reversed course and urged his colleagues to take more time to examine the proposed legislation. Several other lawmakers also voiced their opposition, Politico reported.

Read more:

SOPA Bill Faces New Hurdles
Antipiracy bills in Congress faced new hurdles Wednesday as House Speaker John Boehner said the legislation wasn't ready for a vote and more than a half-dozen senators expressed reservations in some form.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, was among the most significant shifts. He said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the bill is "simply not ready for prime time."
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