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Posted on Techdirt - 19 November 2011 @ 12:00pm

Aaron deOliveira's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the with-graphical-help dept

You’re all under arrest. Pick an acronym: SOPA / ACTA / PROTECT-IP / CFAA. The end result seems to be the same. You’re a criminal. This week on Techdirt has been a wild ride through the arguments about and the consequences of some drastic ideas.

The Department of Justice feels that lying online should be illegal. Not just being deceptive, but being inaccurate in the information you provide. The DOJ most likely won’t be trolling Plenty of Fish, but they can potentially use your Facebook profile as the starting point of a felony investigation. This also effectively makes being anonymous online illegal. Aren’t proxies effectively lying about your IP address? Accepting the DOJ’s interpretation of CFAA effectively turns Terms of Service into private laws. How many people does this criminalize?

Once you’ve been accused of one of these pseudo-crimes the burden of proof is then on you to prove that you’re not a criminal. Organizations and companies like GEMA think so. This outward pushing of liability continues to have chilling effects. The efficiencies and opportunities created by the Internet are now juxtaposed against massive liability. If your product can potentially be used by everyone, everyone’s actions are now your problem.

The scary part of the legal framework that SOPA and its ilk are promoting is that the death penalty they create also makes phishing and other forms of fraud indistinguishable from legitimate sites. This whole exercise is like blowing up a bridge to stop people from speeding across it.

Thankfully, people have been active in expressing their outrage at such egregious laws. I love the idea that government inboxes are flooded with 23,000 messages per hour. People can be innovative and disruptive and when they are, people listen. Several members of Congress have made statements against SOPA. These laws have even become election issues for people campaigning for office.

Be aware of all the ways that these laws could affect you. Be thankful that in the end the Internet perceives these laws as damage and routes around them.

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