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.

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  1. icon
    vivaelamor (profile), 25 Sep 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.

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