Senator Wyden Warns That Domain Seizures And COICA Undermine Internet Freedom
from the sounds-about-right dept
Senator Wyden continues to be one of the few politicians actually concerned about the impact of the government’s expansive view towards seizing domain names and stifling speech online. His latest is to point out that Homeland Security’s strategy with these domain seizures appears to be completely in conflict with the State Department’s position on internet freedom, as laid out by Hillary Clinton.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Wyden said he sees a tension in the government between the aggressive ICE crackdown and the work of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to promote Internet freedom. The State Department funds technology aimed at derailing Web censorship by foreign regimes.
Wyden, who commended Clinton for her efforts and said he has spoken with her on the initiative, said domain-name seizures in the U.S. could be a setback to Clinton’s Internet freedom work.
“Hopefully, her views will prevail, and not the views of ICE,” he said.
Wyden said foreign governments might look at the domain seizures and say, “We’ve seen it done in the U.S. We have the green light to do it here in our country.”
He’s absolutely correct, of course, but I’m not sure this line of argument will really work. That’s because supporters of domain seizures in the US seem to have a complete mental block on this issue. They claim that such seizures are okay in the US because it’s about “stopping people from breaking the law.” What they don’t realize is that’s the identical reason given for seizing domains and websites elsewhere: it’s just that the laws are different. In China, the argument for blocking speech has always been to stop people from breaking laws. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the State Department and Hillary Clinton claim they’re fine with domain seizures and try to distinguish them from censorship in other countries through a massive level of cognitive dissonance.
I think this is a real problem, honestly. The supporters of domain seizures and laws like COICA simply refuse to recognize how much harm this does to the US’s arguments abroad concerning censorship. They have a block, because they think this kind of censorship is “good” so it’s either not really censorship, or it’s okay. It’s this blind spot that will really harm the US’s ability to have any real moral leadership on censorship issues in other countries.