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Congress wants to decide what YOU can do and see on the Internet

Protect the Internet: Help stop Internet censorship legislation!

Join the virtual strike to protest two proposed laws in the United States, called SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act. On January 24th, the U.S. Senate will vote on the PROTECT IP Act to censor the Internet, despite opposition from the *VAST MAJORITY* of Americans who have made their disapproval crystal clear.

The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!

Here is the complete text of the SOPA proposal, and here is the complete text of the PIPA proposal.

Congress wants to give corporations unlimited free speech rights and for you to have NONE!

Big media and its allies in Congress are billing the Internet blacklist legislation as a new way to battle online infringement. But innovation and free speech advocates know that this initiative will do little to stop infringement online. What it will do is compromise Internet security, inhibit online expression, and slow growth in the technology sector.

As drafted, the legislation would grant the government and private parties unprecedented power to interfere with the Internet's underlying infrastructure. The government would be able to force ISPs and search engines to block users' attempts to reach certain websites' URLs. In response, third parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet (not just the newly censored U.S. version), which will create new computer security vulnerabilities as the Internet grows increasingly balkanized.

It gets worse: the blacklist bills' provisions would give corporations and other private parties new powers to censor foreign websites with court orders that would cut off payment processors and advertisers. Broad immunity provisions (combined with a threat of litigation) would encourage service providers to over-block innocent users or even block websites voluntarily. This gives content companies every incentive to create unofficial blacklists of websites, which service providers would be under pressure to block without regard to the First Amendment.

Service providers would be forced to monitor and police their users' activities as well, threatening the DMCA safe harbors that have been vital to online innovation over the last decade. SOPA gives the government new powers to go after sites that provide information about tools that might be used to bypass the blacklists -- even though these are often the same tools used by democratic activists around the world to bypass Internet censorship mechanisms implemented by authoritarian governments like Iran and China.

The solutions are literally draconian. There's a bill that would require [Internet service providers] to remove URLs from the Web, which you may have heard about under its other name - government censorship.

SOPA would give both the government and major corporations the power to shut down entire websites accused of copyright infringement with neither a trial nor a traditional court hearing. The legislation is aggressively backed by Hollywood movie studios and major record labels, along with several major news providers, including Fox News and NBC-Universal, which have largely shied away from coverage of the bill.

By pitting nearly the entire tech industry against corporate Capitol Hill insiders from Hollywood, SOPA has prompted a tremendous wave of lobbying in Washington, accompanied by a flood of campaign contributions ahead of the 2012 elections. More than 1,000 lobbyists are currently registered to juice lawmakers on the bill. So once again - and AS USUAL - it's all about politicians being bought-and-paid-for to do what the people bribing them want instead of what the American people want, or what the U.S. Constitution guarantees.

If "corporations are people, too" then SO IS THE INTERNET. But Congress hasn't cared about consistency or ethics or working for the people who they supposedly represent, not for a long, long time. They only care about keeping their corporate puppetmasters happy, and keeping that fat lobby-money gravy train rolling in.

You can see here exactly how these Internet strangulation efforts will directly affect you.

Under current law, companies that believe that their material has been improperly excerpted can request that the infringing material be removed, but cannot demand that entire websites be shuttered. Hollywood and other content providers aggressively police the web looking for such potential "takedowns," and frequently request that legitimate material be removed.

The government's new website annihilation process would involve federal tampering with the domestic Domain Name System -- a basic Internet building block that links numerical addresses where Internet data is stored to URL addresses that people actually type into web browsers. The Chinese government censors the Internet for its citizens by engaging in DNS blocking, restricting access to certain domains.

So, with the passage last month of the "you can be detained indefinitely with no proof, trial or hearing just because somebody thinks you look suspicious" defense bill, we lost the protections of habeas corpus. And this new "Congress will decide what you can and cannot read or access on the Internet" bill, they're trying to kill individual rights to free speech.

I guess the next step will be for Congress to make the NRA's wet dream come true and make gun ownership federally mandatory.

Don't let these corporate-owned charlatans and minions get away with it. Take action to protect the rights that are supposed to protect you.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at January 18, 2012 12:39 PM
Comment #334707

Thank you so much for posting this on watchblog. Ive been a reader for quite sometime and I know theres differing opinions but when politicians get together and propose laws that can so easily be abused by large corporations without due process we need to speak out. One could argue that sime of the politicians have right intentions but bad execution which is still very dangerous. There are alternatives so lets discuss those rather than passing a law that monopolizes power.

Posted by: azctrl at January 18, 2012 1:24 PM
Comment #334708

The next step will be for Congress to make retirement planning and health care federally mandatory. Hmmmm…

Kind of funny how giving government “unprecedented power” over one’s health care and retirement is ok to some, but by golly, giving them power over what websites people visit is going to far.

Eh, whatever. I’m with you. Hopefully it fails.

Posted by: kctim at January 18, 2012 1:29 PM
Comment #334718

kctim, you bring up a good point or at least indirectly which is there is a common thread in everything you mentioned and this proposed law. The centralization of power and control. What government needs to realize is that they create more inefficiencies and bottlenecks anytime they try to fully manage something. Imagine trying to manage the world wide web. Most rogue sites that operate illegally do so outside of the US and they frequently change domain names and IP’s so it’s a moving target. This law won’t resolve that problem. What they can do is cut the financial legs out from under these sites by penalizing advertisers and ad networks for advertising on these sites after being notified or by fining credit card companies fo processing transactions after proper notification.

Posted by: azctrl at January 18, 2012 2:41 PM
Comment #334720

People willfully ignoring that common thread is why legislation such as this comes up all the time.
People commend such government overreach when it makes them feel good and condemn it when it doesn’t.

Posted by: kctim at January 18, 2012 2:57 PM
Comment #334725

Agree. Don’t like these kinds of interfering laws. I would also include others.

Posted by: C&J at January 18, 2012 4:17 PM
Comment #334730

Agreed. It’s a wonderment to me that voters are trusted with enough intelligence to elect their representatives, but according to congress, are not sufficiently trusted to purchase the light bulbs they desire.

Is anyone surprised at the overreach of big government? It will continue, you can count on that.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 18, 2012 5:51 PM
Comment #334732

Politicians look at the Internet as something tangible, but it’s not real and therefore can’t be regulated. If someone wanted they could set up a different protocol than TCP/IP, OS developers could push it out as an update inside of a week, and this entire piece of legislation would be worthless. IT can change in the blink of an eye. I know, Iā€™m still trying to access Gopher!

Posted by: George at January 18, 2012 6:01 PM
Comment #334754

I agree with the consensus, but watch out for the IWWW.

Royal, both political parties and, this year, anyone else with the money to get in on the act, are planning to spend two or three $ billion propagandizing the hell out of voters because they are afraid that voters are intelligent enough to elect their representatives.

Posted by: jlw at January 18, 2012 9:41 PM
Comment #334802

Surveys should decide party platforms. http://ā€

Posted by: Johnw at January 20, 2012 6:41 AM
Comment #334803

Posted by: Johnw at January 20, 2012 6:43 AM
Comment #334810

The real problem here is that our elected officials, from both sides of the aisle, have gotten so complacent regarding our liberties that they did not see anything wrong with putting a bill on the floor that would allow corporations the power to shut down other business’s without a trial.

“Protect IP and its House companion, SOPA, would grant the government and corporations broad powers to shut down Web sites they believe are engaged in copyright infringement — without a trial or a traditional court hearing.”

For anyone still doubtful about the takeover of our government by corporate America what more proof do you need.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 20, 2012 11:57 AM
Comment #334843

Gary, there are many avenues to pursue minimization of copyright piracy. The only responsible way is one which does not sacrifice legitimate freedoms and which protects the public from onerous and abusive oppression by those pursuing piracy.

Good topic and article.

j2t2, right on.

Posted by: David Remer at January 20, 2012 10:36 PM
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