Could new Internet bills introduce vast potential for censorship and abuse on the Internet?
The Internet is one of the United States most robust industries and it allows communications among billions and has been the backbone of protests around the world. But a new Internet bill proposes that we give the power to censor the Internet to the entertainment industry.
Austin, Texas based green hosting firm, GreenHostIt, has formally announced that GreenHostIt has taken a position in opposition to Protect IP and SOPA.
GreenHostIt CEO stated,
GreenHostIt is in the right place at the right time to help Internet entrepreneurs with the right web-based tools to be successful, while at the same time offering a corporate culture based on principles of environmental protection and entrepreneurial liberty.
Here’s how Protect IP and SOPA Work:
Private corporations want the ability to shut down sites where people download movies, TV shows and music. Since most of these sites are outside U.S. jurisdiction, Protect IP uses a couple of different tactics within American borders.
1. It gives the government the power to make U.S. Internet providers block access to infringing domain names. They can also sue a U.S. based search engine, directories, even blogs and forums to have links to these sites removed.
2. Protect IP gives corporations and the government the ability to cut off funds to infringing web sites by having U.S. based advertisers and payment processors cancel those accounts.
For starters, it will not stop downloaders — you can still access a blocked web site by entering the IP address, rather than the domain name.
Internet Bills and Start Ups
Protect IP will cripple new start ups because it also lets companies sue any site that they feel is not doing their filtering well enough.
These lawsuits could easily bankrupt new search engines and social media sites. And Protect IP’s wording is ambiguous enough that important social media sites could become targets. Many sites where people express themselves or organize protests, broadcast news, or make art could look like piracy havens to the wrong judge.
Perhaps most dangerously, Protect IP will meddle with the inter workings of the Internet.
By fiddling with the net’s registry of domain names, Protect IP will not protect piracy, while making the Internet less secure and less stable. It will introduce vast potential for censorship and abuse.
The Internet is a vital and vibrant medium and the government is tampering with its basic structure so that people will maybe buy more Hollywood movies.
Corporations already have tools to fight piracy, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Abuse of Power in Washington?
There is a history of abusing power in Washington, so the question is how far will they take all of this. The answer is “as far as we will let them.”
Protect IP is setup for quick passage. Sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook would need to censor every single user since they will be held responsible for any content that users post.
And individuals could be sent to jail for 5 years just for any copyrighted work, even just singing a pop song.
What is it about Washington DC that drives otherwise seemingly-rational people to favor such boneheaded proposals? Maybe it is the drinking water there. Or the money?
Become an Internet Activist
For more information or to get involved and learn more about Internet bills, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) a vocal advocate against SOPA, has release an open letter from 83 prominent Internet engineers against SOPA. The EFF has also put together an online toolkit to help opponents become more effective activists.