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SOPA / PIPA « Previous | |Next »
January 19, 2012

The US Congress is about to pass what has been called the internet censorship bill, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its version of the internet censorship bill on Tuesday, January 24th, and unless there are 41 senators to voice their opposition to allowing the bill to proceed, it is expected to pass.

The Obama White House has come out against it and some Republicans are now starting to come come out against the legislation. There is extensive online protest, some of it innovative.

Legislation called the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House are purported to be a way to crack down on online copyright infringement. In reality the bill is much broader. It would empower governments and corporations to take down virtually any website, create new liabilities and uncertainties for web innovators, and make the web less safe.

According to the varied and multitudinous reasons large numbers of sites and individuals are opposed to the bill, it betrays basic American tenets, such as free speech, prosperity, and national security. On top of all that, cybersecurity experts say it wouldn't stop copyright infringement.

The legislation is backed and largely written by the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) representing the so-called "content" industries – the ones represented by huge multimedia corporations which own movie studios, record labels and publishing houses including Rupert Murdoch who views it as Silicon Valley v Hollywood.

The legislation is another example of the influence of corporate money on American politics and the way that politicians shill for corporate interests in order to ensure a prosperous post-Congress career.

Clay Shirky says that the old media firms in the US dislike our willingness to share things with your friends, and with the world at large:

Sopa/Pipa would allow private companies to assert that a foreign site is "dedicated to theft of US property". Once a US media firm had made such an accusation, they could then black out the domain name of the accused site, so that if a user typed into their browser, nothing would happen (all of this could be based on an accusation: Sopa and Pipa seem to regard the niceties of a trial as an undue burden).

The scary bit of legalese is the idea that the law would apply not just to actual copyright violations (the nominal goal of the law) but to any site that was "facilitating the activities" of copyright infringement, a term nowhere defined but vague enough to include mentioning the existence of such sites, which is enough to make them findable.

A major hosting service (, for example) will contain many thousands of individual blog sites, a few of which may be fostering or practising piracy. But a DNS block would make the entire universe vanish--disappear from the internet by rendering them unfindable. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides other examples. The bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet’s critical technical infrastructure.

Sopa and Pipa are, quite simply, an attempt to create a privatised form of international censorship. The content industries longstanding control of information and communications is threatened by the user-generated internet. So they aim to create an information monoculture where regimes work with corporations to control what we can read, hear and watch. The Internet will become increasingly 'sterile' and loaded with the agendas of the corporate world whilst voices of dissent become squeezed out.

The backlash against these bills has caused its sponsors to put them on hold. They will be retooled and represented when the opportunity is right.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:16 AM | | Comments (7)


The internet's architecture is flawed.

The Internet relies on two technical protocols that allow national governments to sensor and block with relative ease. These are the DNS (Domain Name Service) which can be tinkered with to stop 'undesirable' traffic being switched through domestic broadband networks and the related BGP (Border Gateway Protocol).

The strong alliance between the US and Australia means that our law makers could be pressured into introducing similar legislation into the Australian parliament

What Murdoch really dislikes is a fully fledged internet TV as using google is search the web for free movies means that consumers can cut loose from Foxtel because the handful of companies that decide what comes onto our TV screens would lose control.

That's why his newspapers in Australia are opposed to the national broadband network---fast broadband makes it possible for consumers to use google to download movies from the internet straight into their TV.

yep, Murdoch really doesn't want Google to link to sites that may allow one to download illegal content (movies, music, books etc) Google must be punished for allowing this to happen.

Ho yes! Way too much chatter in cyberspace, on the internet.
Give you an example.
Tonight, SBS news had a reporter suggesting that the "Republican Right fears Romney" (not verbatim)
As someone lately introduced to the illicit pleasures of FB, let alone blogs over a decade, am willing to predict the response of at least some of my US FB friends to an announcement of this sort and what it tells me both about real (world) Americans and about the reliability of local media and press.
George, I here you so loudly.

MSM reports of the Megaupload shutdown and arrests regularly say that warrants were executed in "the US and eight other countries..." on Friday.

I can't find a list of the "eight other countries", but the US Dept. of Justice media release (which doesn't list them either) does say that authorities in Australia "provided assistance". So we're doing the US' dirty work yet again.

The Megaupload shutdown indicates that the U.S. Government already possesses the power to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations.

The U.S. Government is willing and able to exercise this power even against the world’s largest sites based on the unproven accusation of Piracy.