Can Defenders Of SOPA Explain How You Define Taking Deliberate Action To Avoid Taking Action?
from the the-problem-of-definitions dept
The Congressional Internet Caucus group held a recent panel discussion around SOPA, which is worth listening to. But one point struck me in particular. We’ve pointed out in the past the ridiculously convoluted language in the bill, that makes any site “dedicated to theft of U.S. property” if it “is taking, or has taken deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U.S.-directed site to carry out acts that constitute” infringement. During the debate, supporters of SOPA defended this provision as nothing special, because you have to take “deliberate action.”
But, let’s be clear here. The “deliberate action” you have to take is to not take action. Think about that, and about how easy it is to abuse. How do you show that someone took deliberate action to not take action? You just show they didn’t take action. You have a double negative issue here. The reality is that this provision means “you must take action.” Not taking action is seen as deliberate action to “avoid confirming” that “high probability.” Basically, any site that doesn’t want to face massive liability, which could cause your site to disappear and all of your revenue partners to cut you off, would simply have to start monitoring proactively. If you don’t take action, you get accused of deliberately choosing not to take action.
See how ridiculous this is? The law is worded in such a weasel way that it allows defenders of the law to say there’s no requirement for action and that it only punishes “deliberate” actions — but actually reading the text shows that the “deliberate action” you have to take is to not take action. Thus, the only sensible course of action under the bill to avoid being declared “dedicated to theft of U.S. property” is to proactively monitor and block. That’s a massive change to the regulatory framework of the internet, disguised as something different through a sneaky language choice.