The Stop Online Piracy Act is Meant to Stifle Internet Innovation in America, Tell Congress and the President that SOPA is Not in Our Best Interest

The Electronic Frontier Foundation leads the fight against the draconian and backwards thinking Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA:

This is the third in our series Part 1, Part 2 breaking down the potential effects of the Stop Online Piracy Act SOPA, an outrageous and grievously misguided bill now working its way through the House of Representatives. This post discusses dangerous software censorship provisions that are new in this bill, as well as the DNS censorship provisions it inherited from the Senates COICA and PIPA bills. Please help us fight this misguided legislation by contacting Congress today.

via Hollywoods New War on Software Freedom and Internet Innovation | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Our honorable members of Congress seems to have so much time on their hands after fixing our economy and lack of jobs that they can think up clever names with equally smart acronyms for their proposed legislation–PROTECT-IP in the Senate and SOPA in the House.

SOPA goes beyond breaking the domain name system (DNS) like in PROTECT-IP by putting software developers in the crosshairs of big media conglomerates and their proposed muscle: the US Attorney General.

Techdirt has a great analysis of SOPA from the perspective of software developers here. Essentially, they argue that big media is pushing legislation to further address their BUSINESS problem through LEGISLATION.

Digital culture today would likely be much more open and consumer oriented if we didn’t have laws like the DMCA. SOPA will stifle things even more than the DMCA. Additionally, I don’t believe that laws should be made to support an industry unwilling to transform itself to accommodate the reality of digital culture today. The next step could be subsidies for an industry that can afford to give its CEOs pay raises in the MILLIONS. You shouldn’t let this happen–let your members of Congress know that you don’t agree with this law, and let President Obama know that should such a law pass both houses he should veto it.

PROTECT-IP Leaves Committee, Put on Hold by Senator Wyden, Filtering DNS Amounts to Censorship

According to the findings of an insightful report by DNS experts [here] and a feature article on Ars Technica:

Senator Ron Wyden D-OR has called the PROTECT IP Act “a threat to our economic future and to our international objectives.” He characterized its predecessor as a “bunker-busting cluster bomb when what you really need is a precision-guided missile.” The bill would force Domain Name System DNS operators to stop correctly resolving the names of so-called “rogues sites.”

Is this sort of monkeying with the DNS a problem? Yes, say DNS experts in a new report PDF on the practice. In their view, DNS filtering provisions would make the Web less secure—and do little to stop illegal filesharing sites.

via DNS filtering: absolutely the wrong way to defend copyrights.

Earlier today, the Protect-IP act left committee, but Senator Wyden was able to halt its progression before going to the floor of the Senate for a vote. He is correct that the language of Protect-IP would be a too broad approach to protecting intellectual property online. However, the enforcement of this bill should it become law would amount to censorship and still not prevent the kind of illegal distribution of intellectual property that it attempts to curtail.

I have commented on this law before here, and I still think that this is the kind of messy, power-crazy legislation that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. I am all for the upholding of sensible copyright, but I am against Big Media’s attempts to short circuit the law in their favor.

We, meaning people, need to assert our rights to culture and our rights to freedom of speech online. The Protect-IP act could circumvent both of these things by assigning the decision making process of what constitutes a fair and legal voice outside the bounds of due process AND taking away our right to judge for ourselves what is fair and legal.

As the report linked above argues and Ars Technica discusses, the law’s effect on DNS filtering would be easily circumvented, but the fact is that we should not be making laws that further reduce online communication that would be need circumvention if the law is not equally or fairly applied. If this bill passes, circumvention itself could be further criminalized. Additional criminalization is the not the answer either. This could turn into a stepping stone in that direction if we do not demand that these attempts at death of citizens’ rights by a thousand cuts is not halted.

Tech Rights Updates Since My Last Post

Since I posted on my disappointment with the current administration’s backtracking on digital rights and personal privacy in the Internet age, there have been some new developments:

Wired Magazine’s Threat Level reports here that the worst provisions in the secret ACTA treaty have been removed from the currently circulating document.

Techdirt reports that the Mexican Senate voted to withdraw from ACTA negotiations. They also report that at a recent ACTA meeting, Wi-Fi was apparently turned off in the building to help restrict the flow of realtime information to the folks in the world that might be affected by this sham media-interest treaty. Don’t they know about cellular data plans?

I also found this recent story on the New York Times about the major tech companies declining to comment on the Obama administration’s support of easier Internet wiretapping.

If you haven’t already done so, it may be a good idea to support the Electronic Frontier Foundation.