Obama Comes Out Against Censoring The Internet; Will He Veto Leahy/Hatch Censorship Bill?

from the questions,-questions dept

On Thursday, President Obama gave a speech to the United Nations that (not surprisingly) covered a lot of ground. But the bit that caught my eye concerned his commitment to a free and open internet without censorship:
We will promote new tools of communication so people are empowered to connect with one another and, in repressive societies, to do so with security. We will support a free and open Internet, so individuals have the information to make up their own minds. And it is time to embrace and effectively monitor norms that advance the rights of civil society and guarantee its expansion within and across borders.
Sounds good.

Around the same time Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was giving a speech at Georgetown University where he talked about some very similar points:
Today, I am announcing the official launch of an additional Task Force project -- one focused on preserving the global, Free Flow of Information on the Internet.

It's likely that many of you saw a recent cover story in The Economist alluding to "the Web's new walls."

The theme of the article is that the openness of the Internet is in jeopardy.

As the Internet has grown, and as it's become more central to the lives of people and to economies, we are seeing an increasing number of government policies around the world that restrict the free flow of information on the Web.

Many of these policy efforts, in particular those centered on censorship, have deep human rights implications.
Later on in the speech, he again worries about governments censoring the internet:
In recent years, however, we have seen a significant up-tick in threats to the free flow of information on the Internet.

Censorship continues to be a significant problem in too many countries, and a range of new Internet-related regulations, or other actions by governments around the world, are springing up as speed bumps on the information superhighway.

At one level, we are dealing with questions that concern national sovereignty. We recognize that enhanced efforts to combat cyber-crimes and to protect a nation's national security needs are necessary.

But there seems to be the growing risk that idiosyncratic regulations are implemented not to protect a state's legitimate interests, but rather to undermine fair competition or create market share for preferred businesses.
Again, all of this sounds good... but it makes me wonder how the administration feels about the new "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" from Senators Leahy and Hatch, which set up a system that avoids due process to censor websites in a clear attempt to "undermine fair competition and create market share for preferred businesses."

Unfortunately, it seems likely that Obama and Locke are all for this kind of censorship. That's because the "preferred businesses" that are helped by the COICA are the ones who support Obama and Locke. After all, it was just a few weeks ago that Locke gave a speech where he completely sided with the entertainment industry on various copyright issues, highlighting bogus data and ignoring tons of evidence that contradicted the statements he was making.

Chances are we're going to see more hypocrisy in the government -- claiming to be against censorship designed to protect businesses in other countries, but all for it at home, when those businesses are the ones contributing campaign funds.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Chances are we're going to see more hypocrisy in the government

    Chances? Ha ha ha ha haaa ha hah ahahahahahaha hahahah ahah ah ah ah.... ahhh. Chances. Your a good egg Mike. Have a good weekend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Even Bush was not that stupid, he threatened to veto a very similar law that was proposed before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    jes thinkin, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    It's as if...

    There were two choices for one party - the corpocrats. So, if there were more old wing-nuts, 'Republicans' would win; if there were more sick-of-bushies, it'd be the 'Democrats'. Either way, we have the same result - corporate shills.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    "Obama Comes Out Against Censoring The Internet"

    Yet the U.S. has no problems censoring broadcasting airwaves by giving only a select hand full of corporations control over our right to use broadcasting spectra however we feel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re: It's as if...

    In the poker game of life, politicians are the rake. The fucking rake....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Context much?

    "We will promote new tools of communication so people are empowered to connect with one another and, in repressive societies, to do so with security. We will support a free and open Internet, so individuals have the information to make up their own minds."

    He's pretty clearly talking about other nations here, not the U.S. government. Other countries censor the internet, while the U.S. government is only protecting the children and musicians. There's a difference. Come on now, keep up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    Now quit pointing out double-standards here! The gov hates it when you do that. Besides, we could be here all day doing that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Daddy Warbucks, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Progressives want a World Govt - UN

    Workers of the World Unite! The Communist Manifesto http://tiny.cc/s8dfb
    Leveling of wealth; knock down the rich countries to raise the poor
    Favor Socialist business models over Free enterprise models
    Stifling competition (Free enterprise) in favor of Regulations
    Remove Constitutional Checks and Balances and replace with Czars
    Autonomies; The Fed, Regulation Czar, Health Care Czar, Consumer Protection Czar (bypass Congress and Constitution)
    Proposed - Control the Internet with Censorship Czar

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Bob, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Seriously now. This has nothing to do with censorship. Okay, maybe I would agree with you if there were some blogger out there writing reviews of torrent sites with phrases like, "an insouciant collection of late 80s TV dramas with hints of berries and clovers."



    But that's not what's going on. Some big machine is helping jerks get rich by selling access to other people's hard work and the jerks don't pay the real workers anything. If ISOHunt, Pirate Bay or the USENET site du jour tried to copyright their bitstream-- a very ironic act-- they wouldn't even pass the Feist test for creative contribution to the world.



    This kind of First Amendment argument hurts the cause because it lumps together the real people who are censored with a bunch of losers who are too cheap to share their cash with people who actually create content.



    While you're on your censorship/First Amendment kick, why don't you check out this case from Baltimore where one of the people convicted of murder just helped hire the hitman. Sounds just like the torrent sites that always claim that they're not actually infringing, they're just pointing people to the infringement which is like totally okay, dude.



    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-co-murder-for-hire-closing-2010092 0,0,6586684.story




    He said that prosecuting Coyle presented a challenge because it required convincing the jury of the culpability of a person who everyone agreed was not at the scene of the crime. His conviction, Shellenberger said, supports the legal theory that anyone who helps to commit a murder is as responsible as the person who actually carries it out.




    So go ahead. I dare you to say that the courts are censoring the hitman's tracker.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Veritas, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    The FTC has already started posting Regulations for Bloggers and is now threatening them. This will continue to grow as all government inherently grows with power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    But that's not what's going on. Some big machine is helping jerks get rich by selling access to other people's hard work and the jerks don't pay the real workers anything. If ISOHunt, Pirate Bay or the USENET site du jour tried to copyright their bitstream-- a very ironic act-- they wouldn't even pass the Feist test for creative contribution to the world.

    Yes, and when the VCR came out, it too, was decried as a pirate device.

    Same with radio.

    And television.

    And the player piano.

    And the mp3 device.

    And you supported banning all of those?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    TPBer, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Bob you are an obvious industry douche. If it's on the net it's up for grabs, no matter how hard you stomp and cry. Censorship will only censor the douche bags such as yourself. I will have no problems navigating wherever I want to go and I can DL as much binary as I want. This constant barrage copyright crap is going to nothing but entangle those who can barely navigate, the ones like yourself, because if you had a clue you would realize censorship is the equivalent of trying to stop the sun from rising.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Whoa, there are "pirate websites" offering to pay me to infringe copyrights? That sounds cool! Which sites are you referring to? YouTube, the evil bastion of piracy, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Creativity will continue without IP and in fact IP only hinders creativity. The uncreative middlemen, who produce absolutely nothing of value, are the ones lobbying for patent and copy-protection laws. They're so uncreative that the most creative thing they can think to waste their money on is campaign contributions and lobbying for laws that unfairly benefit them, instead of actually figuring out ways to produce anything of value to society.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    (and it's not like these collection societies who want these laws pay the artists much. They take the majority of what should go to the artists and pocket it).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Obviously he must. I'm sure he has a wrecking bar in his vehicle to attack player pianos in those busy player piano stores because they're pirates, dammnit, PIRATES!

    It's a reach to link all this to a story about someone convicted of being an accessory before the fact to murder but he did it.

    The thing about people who try so hard to be hip is that they usually aren't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    No he's referring to alt-enraged-sex-pissed-more-sex-get-your-trorrents-here!

    They're the ones offering money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Randomguy, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    The dedemocratisation of the internet

    Do any American Techdirters know the chances of the Leahy/Hatch bill being passed? You guys have an upcoming election if I'm not mistaken (and the Democrats look like they're in trouble), would this affect things?

    Here in Australia, the Labor party got back in as a minority government and now have to rely on the support of the Greens and a few Independents to pass legislation. The Greens have already categorically stated that they are against internet censorship, so even with the unknown factor of the Independents it looks set to fail. Still, they're pushing ahead with it - probably because opposition has been largely isolated to the tech community, the issue has been severely underreported in all mainstream media channels and backing down would provide the opposition party with political capital.

    I hope our friends in the US have similar luck, I would hate to see these kind of restrictions become the norm - that would be a very worrying precedent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re:

    and lets not forget how they monopolize cableco infrastructure into the hands of a few IP maximists who censor all IP criticisms and all of the problems that our IP laws are causing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    DerekCurrie (profile), Sep 24th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

    And then The Corporate Oligarchy vetoed the bill

    One unfortunate thing to watch for and keep in mind is that the US federal government is over-lorded to a significant extent by The Corporate Oligarchy. These bozos own the 'Lobby'. They write the bills for Congress. They pay for their cooperative candidates to win re-election. They frack everything up. Witness what these clowns did to the economy via their manipulation of The Bush League.

    Therefore, if The Corporate Oligarchy wants to mess with censorship of stuff they don't like, expect them to force it to happen.

    Remember representative government in the USA?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2010 @ 10:45pm

    The US needs one simple change: Eliminate the concept of a "campaign contribution". It's legal bribery, and it has been for over a century.
    Large companies give large "contributions" to both sides of an election, rendering the election's results meaningless, since whichever candidate is elected will take the same orders from the same lobbyists.
    Therefore, laws do not reflect the will of the people, but the will of the wealthy. Rather than democracy, we have plutocracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Sep 25th, 2010 @ 2:31am

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    'Seriously now. This has nothing to do with censorship. Okay, maybe I would agree with you if there were some blogger out there writing reviews of torrent sites with phrases like, "an insouciant collection of late 80s TV dramas with hints of berries and clovers." '

    You were given examples of how this is censorship in a previous article, but chose to ignore them. Here are some more you propose to censor: Die Beauty; The Corporation; Self Helpless; pretty much everything on Vodo, including The Lionshare and Pioneer One.

    By the way, what torrentfreak does (writing original articles), should definitely be covered by free speech rights. Your apparent suggestion that it shouldn't is shameful.

    "But that's not what's going on. Some big machine is helping jerks get rich by selling access to other people's hard work and the jerks don't pay the real workers anything. If ISOHunt, Pirate Bay or the USENET site du jour tried to copyright their bitstream-- a very ironic act-- they wouldn't even pass the Feist test for creative contribution to the world. "

    Selling? None of your examples sell access to anything. Perhaps you should be more concerned about the jerks getting rich by selling access to peoples hard work while pretending to work for them.

    "This kind of First Amendment argument hurts the cause because it lumps together the real people who are censored with a bunch of losers who are too cheap to share their cash with people who actually create content. "

    The cause is being harmed by people like you not willing to recognise that real people are censored when you deny First Amendment rights to 'a bunch of losers'.

    "While you're on your censorship/First Amendment kick, why don't you check out this case from Baltimore where one of the people convicted of murder just helped hire the hitman. Sounds just like the torrent sites that always claim that they're not actually infringing, they're just pointing people to the infringement which is like totally okay, dude. "

    I'm sorry, you're suggesting that copyright infringement is akin to murder? Further, you're suggesting that torrent sites are akin to the person hiring a hitman, rather than say, a legal service they happened to use to hire a hitman? Astounding.

    "So go ahead. I dare you to say that the courts are censoring the hitman's tracker."

    I'd rather say that you have very little regard for logic or reason if you are going to argue that a torrent site is analogous to someone hiring a hitman.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Montezuma (profile), Sep 25th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    I would not believe one word that asshole says. Has much as he has ended up failing in everything else he "promised", there is no way that anyone should ever believe another word to ejects from his face-mouthed audio-projecting/food receptacle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    FreemonSandlewould, Sep 27th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Typical of politics and why libertarianism is the only way to be free

    Always vote for smaller government. Even if it means you get your free government cheese cut off.

    I know that will make liberal heads explode but you will eventually understand it. Yes even you with bony protrusions for heads will understand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2010 @ 4:42pm

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    Kudos.... You've just discovered (or had pointed out to you by someone with the appropriate knowledge) the Felony-Murder Rule (google it if you need more info), which does 2 things, makes death resulting from the commission a felony be considered Murder for legal purposes, and "Second, it makes any participant in such a felony criminally liable for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony."

    Now for bonus points please explain how this applies to CIVIL cases such as Copyright Infringement.......

    Time's almost up, got an answer yet.... Yeah I didn't think so, but thanks for playing shill, see you tomorrow ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Chris Connelly, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Quote

    And it is time to embrace and effectively monitor norms that advance the rights of civil society and guarantee its expansion within and across borders.


    As Obama says an open internet, his next line shows how civil liberties are being violated in the name of security

    effectively monitor is not open

    so he does agree with censorship in the right of civil society

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    RandomGuy (profile), Nov 28th, 2010 @ 1:33am

    Re: Context much?

    Exactly. They're all for open internet in Iran or China, but in the US... how many websites has the DHS shut down now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    fuk off, Nov 28th, 2010 @ 1:35am

    Re: Progressives want a World Govt - UN

    die in hell socalist idoit

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    športna trgovina, Nov 28th, 2010 @ 4:38am

    The internet should be free but the freeflow of information logicly worries the leaders as this keeps the crowd quiet

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    marziani52, Nov 28th, 2010 @ 5:08am

    censorship

    La censura deriva dalla visione oscurantista di una politica corrotta alla quale Obama ed il mondo devono opporre la visione cosmopolita della societa attuale.Quindi rivolgere l'attenzione Globale alle questioni che da sempre esrcitano forze economiche e sociali deleterie ed oscurantiste

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    dgfut, Nov 28th, 2010 @ 6:01am

    Internet Censorship

    It seems only yesterday (that's because it was) that I read about ICE-Homeland Security (seizing)shutting down 70 or so domains with no prior warning. One with which I am familiar is Torrentfinder.com. It hosts no links to copyrighted material, warns against copyright infringement, and was never charged with anything. Its "crime"? It links to other sites where copyrighted material MAY be found. Ask any internet savvy person; the exact same links can be found on Google or Bing. Should we be looking for seizure of the Google or Bing Domains? Probably not. President Obama, I contributed to your campaign, worked for you, and voted for you. Seems like the old Who lyrics "...the new boss; same as the old boss" have proven prophetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Mehrdad Shamsara, Jan 22nd, 2011 @ 4:51pm

    Censoring problems

    Dear Sirs

    Web site censoring is an important problem for computer users in my country. The censorers censor the sexual and political sites. They censor all types of proxy tools, proxy websites, all the anti-filtering software, virtual private networks and downloads and even censor-discussion sites as soon as they are released in internet. A dictatorship rules in my country. Sometimes users notice that they censor other ordinary sites which donít have any outrageous materials.
    for instance when users click on the links that they offer each other in Yahoo messenger, they immediately notice that they are censored in a manner that they can only see the text of the proffered link not the pictures. This is the most ruthless manner of controlling people by dictators who regard people as idiots who should be controlled by some dirty spiritualist.


    Iíd like to ask you a question as an internet expert. Considering the above facts, can you guide me how I can access at least the ordinary sites which I need to use in my course of study?


    Thank you for your early reply

    Sincerely yours
    Mehrdad Shamsara

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Noah Bader Fourney, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    Hi

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Thomas Sabo Carriers, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 2:26am

    it is great pleasure to visit your site. thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    enrico, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    pubblico

    Strappa il segreto di stato.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Tae the awesome girl, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 7:43pm

    hahahahaha

    I'm in canada and I will still continue to watch songs on yutube and continue to make videos with copyrighted songs like seriously youtube do it look like I wan to use that shitty song 009 sound system or whatever? No I want to use good music and I don;t care anyways we are promoting the songs people listen to our videos and they are like whats that song and they go and buy it on itunes anyways people would buy songs if they were cheaper like a buck twenty five for a song lets see five hundred songs thats almost six hundred dollars seriously I could by a laptop or an Iphone with that money anyways if you want free songs just insert a cd into your disc thingy and voila the music goes on your itunes and you are not doing anything illegal the library has tones of cd's you can borrow from there :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Taco Dan, Nov 17th, 2011 @ 2:31am

    Re: It's only censorship when they stop you from expressing yourself, not copying someone else's expression

    How does that story have anything to do with the first amendment? Last time I checked, the first amendment was about free speech, not being able to get away with being an accessory to murder just because you didn't actually murder the guy. There was nothing about censorship, and there was nothing about free speech. If anything that had to do with privacy, and even then it's a stretch.
    You can't just go and cite a random murder story and say it backs up your argument. I'm sorry, but that's just not how it works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Fred (profile), Nov 17th, 2011 @ 6:32pm

    internet

    Obama already said he was vetoing the bill and so he will. Which makes the point of this article vague.

    I will address this issue however ... In terms of 'always vote for smaller government' ... this is an massive fail; because the resulting power vacuum will be occupied by something much worse than than government: corporations. Who are under no obligation to maintain a safe or dignified society, obey the rule of law, act as accountable for their actions, or even have a human representative as an identity. They have no tradition, no values, no culture and no purpose other than to employ American citizens (which they increasingly fail to do). If you'd prefer Jason or Freddie Kruegger as an overlord, then by all means, make the government so small that it becomes nothing more than an empty shell, a dead, impotent subterfuge of what used to be 'America' ... government is not great either, but it has to be there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Sam, Nov 18th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Re: hahahahaha

    what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    anon, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    Fuck the system

    Worry about the fucking economy! Not whats on the web! Censoring shit will just fuck the economy up some more!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    David Phillips Jr., Jan 18th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    George washington would be pissed

    the title says it all if the government wanted to do something about the internet heres an idea.....how about make yourselves useful and do something about all the scam and money stealing sites on here dont control us we have a bill of rights you know and your in direct violation just by even suggesting censoring the internet and controlling what we say/do/watch

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    David Phillips Jr., Jan 18th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    George washington would be pissed

    the title says it all if the government wanted to do something about the internet heres an idea.....how about make yourselves useful and do something about all the scam and money stealing sites on here dont control us we have a bill of rights you know and your in direct violation just by even suggesting censoring the internet and controlling what we say/do/watch

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    juan, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    armando wants to keep seeing porno

    armando cant live with out porno .... and rite now he is jacking off to porno ...... so i say we let him live a lil longer ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This