SOPA & The War on the Internet
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"
Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.
What Is SOPA? Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know
Jorge Rivas, Jamilah King
Wednesday, January 18 2012
Looking to take action to help stop SOPA? It's easy. Go here to learn more, contact your Senator, sign a petition, or censure your own website in protest of the bill.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has got the entire Internet up in arms today. Media justice advocates say the bill is anathema to basic functioning of the Internet; for a system that's based on relative freedom and connectivity, SOPA would work as the online world's stingy gatekeeper, giving government the power to shutdown websites altogether.
Today, hundreds of websites are joining in a day of action to SOPA's threat to freedom of expression on the Internet. Several civil rights and racial justice organizations are joining in what's been called an "Internet strike," by closing their websites from 8 am to 8 pm eastern time. Colorlines.com's Jamilah King, who covers media policy, explains why:
The Internet's been an important space for communities of color to tell their own stories and advocate for issues they don't often see in film or on television. SOPA puts that independence in jeopardy. It'll add yet another barrier to how and what we can communicate.
So, here are the basics on what you need to know.
Who's behind SOPA? Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas politician who's been known mostly for his anti-immigrant stances in recent years. Smith's got big industry backers, namely: The Recording Industry Association of American, the Motion Picture Association of America (now led by former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
What's the justification for SOPA? Supporters of the bill claim that it'll help copyright holders (think big record labels) protect their content. Rep. Smith has criticized the bill's opponents and explained that SOPA would only target foreign websites that put American businesses at risk.
But opponents argue that the definition of "foreign infringing sites" is too vague. As it's written now, they argue, the bill will fundamentally alter the relative freedom with which the Internet currently operates. What's certain is that it'll add a level of supervision to the Internet that's never existed before.
Who's opposed to SOPA? Basically, every website that you visit regularly. Most notably, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Reddit, along with thousands of other websites, have chosen to go dark in opposition to the bill and to help educate users about its potential impact. But the list doesn't stop there: Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and Twitter have also publicly opposed the bill. The White House has also announced that should the bill reach President Obama's desk, he will veto it.
How would SOPA work? It allows the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order against the targeted offshore website that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It's kind of an Internet death penalty.
More specifically, section 102 of SOPA says that, after being served with a removal order:
A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within five days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
How would it impact me? If you create or consume content on the Internet, under SOPA the government would have the power to pull the plug on your website. If you're a casual consumer, your favorite websites could be penalized and shut down if they seem to be illegally supporting copyrighted material.
This is especially important for human rights groups and advocates in communities of color, who could faced increased censorship if the bill is passed. The language of the bill makes it easy for the US Attorney General to go after websites it simply sees as a threat.
Senator Leahy Hands Republicans A Gift By Giving Them Credit For Delaying Vote On PIPA/SOPA
Tue, Jan 24th 2012
from the do-these-people-have-no-clue? dept
We've noted how intellectual property issues are historically non-partisan. Sometimes, that's good, because it means that debates on the issues don't fall into typical brain dead partisan arguments. Sometimes, it's bad, in that it basically means both Republicans and Democrats are generally really bad on IP issues... happy to give industries greater and greater monopoly rights for no good reason. However, we noted an interesting thing happening on the way to the collapse of PIPA and SOPA: the Republicans were first to come together as a party and decide to speak out against these bills, recognizing the groundswell of public interest. That resulted in Republican leadership coming out against the bills, and Republican Presidential candidates all rejecting the approach in the bill. The Democrats, who have traditionally been considered more "internet friendly," simply couldn't bring themselves to go against Hollywood and unions -- two regular allies.
However, as many more net savvy Democrats have explained, this appears to be a major miscalculation on the part of Democratic party leadership -- potentially losing an entire younger generation of voters to the Republicans. Already, mutliple strategists have been suggesting that the Republican Party use this as a chance to cozy up with Silicon Valley, despite its typically "blue" leanings (though, generally with a strong libertarian bent). It certainly appears that the Republicans are ready to do just that. House majority leader, Eric Cantor recently tweeted about meeting with Sergey Brin.
The Democratic leadership, however, still doesn't seem to recognize the importance of the tech community and the wider internet. Rather than learning anything from what happened last week, PIPA sponsor Senator Leahy is actually trying to blame the Republicans for killing PIPA. It's (yet again) an amazingly tone deaf response. It's as if he's pushing the internet and the tech community right into the Republicans' arms. Perhaps he's making a bet that those constituencies don't matter as much as Hollywood... but that seems like a pretty risky bet to make.
Moulitsas: Democrats `incredibly stupid' for still backing SOPA
Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas on Wednesday blasted the Democrats who continue to support the House's Stop Online Piracy and the Senate's Protect IP Act.
Although a number of Republican lawmakers dropped their support of the anti-piracy bills after the largest online protest in history on Wednesday, some prominent Democrats like DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Chuck Schumer still support the bills.
"You had a bipartisan group of people who supported it," Moulitsas said on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. "Today, Republican after Republican has backed out and abandoned support for SOPA and PIPA Democrats haven't. They cling to this fiction that this can be fixed, and not only is this incredibly stupid, its incredible tone deaf."
"You're basically seeing a generation of web savvy, web-immersed people who are obsessed with protecting what they see as their very birthright. They're watching Republicans come out and see the light on this issue while Democrats continue to cling to the Hollywood studios."
Petition demands probe into comments by MPAA chief Chris Dodd
January 22, 2012
As if former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd needed another headache. Last week the Internet lobby defeated anti-piracy bills in Congress heavily backed by the entertainment industry. Now, the Motion Picture Assn. of America's chairman is under fire for remarks he made on a news program.
On Sunday, an online petition claiming more than 10,000 signatures demanded that the White House investigate comments made by the Dodd last week in an interview on Fox News. During the interview, Dodd suggested that lawmakers who don't support tougher anti-piracy laws could lose financial contributions from Hollywood.
"Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," said Dodd. "Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."
Those comments, the petition stated, represent "an open admission of bribery and a threat designed to provoke a specific policy goal. This is a brazen flouting of the 'above the law' status people of Dodd's position and wealth enjoy."
MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman responded: "Senator Dodd was merely making the obvious point that people support politicians whose views coincide with their own. When politicians take positions that people disagree with, those people tend not to support those politicians."
Hawaii may keep track of all Web sites visited
January 26, 2012
Hawaii's legislature is weighing an unprecedented proposal to curb the privacy of Aloha State residents: requiring Internet providers to keep track of every Web site their customers visit.
Its House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing this morning on a new bill requiring the creation of virtual dossiers on state residents. The measure, H.B. 2288, says "Internet destination history information" and "subscriber's information" such as name and address must be saved for two years.
H.B. 2288, which was introduced Friday, says the dossiers must include a list of Internet Protocol addresses and domain names visited. Democratic Rep. John Mizuno of Oahu is the lead sponsor; Mizuno also introduced H.B. 2287, a computer crime bill, at the same time last week.
Last summer, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) managed to persuade a divided committee in the U.S. House of Representatives to approve his data retention proposal, which doesn't go nearly as far as Hawaii's. (Smith, currently Hollywood's favorite Republican, has become better known as the author of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.)
Democrat Jill Tokuda, the Hawaii Senate's majority whip, who introduced a companion bill, S.B. 2530, in the Senate, told CNET that her legislation was intended to address concerns raised by Rep. Kymberly Pine, the first Republican elected to her Oahu district since statehood and the House minority floor leader.
"I was asked to introduce the Senate companions on these Internet security related bills by Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine after her own personal experience in this area," Tokuda said. "I would defer to her on the origins of these bills as she has done the research and outreach, and been the main champion of this effort."
Pine, who did not immediately respond to queries, has been targeted by a disgruntled Web designer, Eric Ryan, who launched KymPineIsACrook.com and claims she owes him money, according to an article last summer in the Hawaii Reporter. Her e-mail account was also reportedly hacked around the same time. The article said Pine would advocate for "tougher cyber laws at the Hawaii State Capitol" as a result.
"We must do everything we can to protect the people of Hawaii from these attacks and give prosecutors the tools to ensure justice is served for victims," Pine said at the time.
Whatever its sponsors' motivations, the bill isn't exactly being welcomed by Hawaiian Internet companies.
"This bill represents a radical violation of privacy and opens the door to rampant Fourth Amendment violations," says Daniel Leuck, chief executive of Honolulu-based software design boutique Ikayzo, who submitted testimony opposing the bill. He adds: "Even forcing telephone companies to record everyone's conversations, which is unthinkable, would be less of an intrusion."
Mizuno's proposal currently specifies no privacy protections, such as placing restrictions on what Internet providers can do with this information (like selling user profiles to advertisers) or requiring that police obtain a court order before perusing the virtual dossiers of Hawaiian citizens. Also absent are security requirements such as mandating the use of encryption.
Because the wording is so broad and applies to any company that "provides access to the Internet," Mizuno's legislation could sweep in far more than AT&T, Verizon, and Hawaii's local Internet providers. It could also impose sweeping new requirements on coffee shops, bookstores, and hotels frequented by the over 6 million tourists who visit the islands each year.
"H.B. 2288 raises all of the traditional concerns associated with data retention, and then some," Kate Dean, head of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association in Washington, D.C., which counts Verizon and AT&T as members, told CNET. "And this may be the broadest mandate we've seen."
Even the Justice Department has only lobbied the U.S. Congress to record Internet Protocol addresses assigned to individuals--users' origin IP address, in other words. It hasn't publicly demanded that companies record the destination IP addresses as well.
In Washington, D.C., the fight over data retention requirements has been simmering since the Justice Department pushed the topic in 2005, a development that was first reported by CNET. Proposals publicly surfaced in the U.S. Congress the following year, and President Bush's attorney general, Alberto Gonzales said it's an issue that "must be addressed." So, eventually, did FBI director Robert Mueller.
Obama Signs Global Internet Treaty Worse Than SOPA
White House bypasses Senate to ink agreement that could allow Chinese companies to demand ISPs remove web content in US with no legal oversight
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Months before the debate about Internet censorship raged as SOPA and PIPA dominated the concerns of web users, President Obama signed an international treaty that would allow companies in China or any other country in the world to demand ISPs remove web content in the US with no legal oversight whatsoever.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was signed by Obama on October 1 2011, yet is currently the subject of a White House petition demanding Senators be forced to ratify the treaty. The White House has circumvented the necessity to have the treaty confirmed by lawmakers by presenting it an as "executive agreement," although legal scholars have highlighted the dubious nature of this characterization.
The hacktivist group Anonymous attacked and took offline the Federal Trade Commission's website yesterday in protest against the treaty, which was also the subject of demonstrations across major cities in Poland, a country set to sign the agreement today.
Under the provisions of ACTA, copyright holders will be granted sweeping direct powers to demand ISPs remove material from the Internet on a whim. Whereas ISPs normally are only forced to remove content after a court order, all legal oversight will be abolished, a precedent that will apply globally, rendering the treaty worse in its potential scope for abuse than SOPA or PIPA.
A country known for its enforcement of harsh Internet censorship policies like China could demand under the treaty that an ISP in the United States remove content or terminate a website on its server altogether. As we have seen from the enforcement of similar copyright policies in the US, websites are sometimes targeted for no justifiable reason.
The groups pushing the treaty also want to empower copyright holders with the ability to demand that users who violate intellectual property rights (with no legal process) have their Internet connections terminated, a punishment that could only ever be properly enforced by the creation of an individual Internet ID card for every web user, a system that is already in the works.
"The same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens' Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the "Three Strikes" /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers," reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The treaty will also mandate that ISPs disclose personal user information to the copyright holder, while providing authorities across the globe with broader powers to search laptops and Internet-capable devices at border checkpoints.
In presenting ACTA as an "international agreement" rather than a treaty, the Obama administration managed to circumvent the legislative process and avoid having to get Senate approval, a method questioned by Senator Wyden.
"That said, even if Obama has declared ACTA an executive agreement (while those in Europe insist that it's a binding treaty), there is a very real Constitutional question here: can it actually be an executive agreement?" asks TechDirt. "The law is clear that the only things that can be covered by executive agreements are things that involve items that are solely under the President's mandate. That is, you can't sign an executive agreement that impacts the things Congress has control over. But here's the thing: intellectual property, in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is an issue given to Congress, not the President. Thus, there's a pretty strong argument that the president legally cannot sign any intellectual property agreements as an executive agreement and, instead, must submit them to the Senate.".
26 European Union member states along with the EU itself are set to sign the treaty at a ceremony today in Tokyo. Other countries wishing to sign the agreement have until May 2013 to do so.
Critics are urging those concerned about Obama's decision to sign the document with no legislative oversight to demand the Senate be forced to ratify the treaty.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars Nightly News.