Posted on Monday, November 21, 2011 12:01:19 PM by Retro Llama
The Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill before the House Judiciary Committee, would require Internet service providers to block access to sites that contain copyright-infringing content. These sites would be targeted by court orders sought by copyright holders.
We’re all for the proper protection of copyrighted material and intellectual property, but this act vastly oversteps this goal and dangerously broadens the power of the government to censor the internet, creating blacklists based on a vague and easily abused complaint framework.
The act also would require ad networks and payment services to revoke service to these sites, and it would call for search engines to hide links to offenders. Search engines and sites that host user-created data such as YouTube and Tumblr would lose current protections and be liable for copyright-infringing content on their servers.
This is far from a reasonable way to block access to illegal content. Blocking access to specific Internet Protocol addresses will require service providers to monitor the data sent and received by users and analyze that data for infringing material. This amounts to a serious violation of users’ rights to privacy.
Under current laws, this information could be kept for years, freely accessed and requested in future court cases. Essentially, it would be warrant-less wiretapping of every Internet user.
The act also raises serious concerns about system abuse and censorship. This act gives the government unprecedented control over the Internet, a serious overreach that empowers the courts to create digital blacklists and mandate the censorship of online content.
This may not seem as dangerous when viewed in the light of illegal content. But this bill is too vague and openly worded to adequately protect legal content.
But the most frightening concern over this bill is the precedent it would set for future policy. The passage of such a strong measure would be a clear declaration of the nation’s priorities.
Passage of this law would be an explicit endorsement by Congress of widespread censorship and privacy violations. It would be a message to the international community that the free, open nature of the Internet is not worth protecting.
Help prevent a new era of China-inspired Internet policy by signing the petitions at Change.org and AmericanCensorship.org, and urging your representatives to vote against this dangerous bill.