Washington Post Column Incredulous That Congress Is Considering Censoring The Internet

from the mainstream-america-is-waking-up dept

It appears that more and more in mainstream America are waking up to the horrors of SOPA and PROTECT IP. Dominic Basulto, writing in the Washington Post notes that the debate over SOPA sends an "ugly message" to the rest of the world about the US:
Imagine a country where the government is able to shut down Web sites at the slightest provocation, where elected representatives invoke fears of "overseas pirates" to defend the interests of domestic industries, and where Internet companies like Google must cave in to the demands of government censors or risk being shut down.

No, we are not talking about China, North Korea or Iran we are talking about the United States, where legislators in both the House and Senate are attempting to push through new anti-piracy legislation by year-end that would benefit Hollywood at the expense of Silicon Valley.
Basulto also makes the point clearly. Supporters are "[confusing] 'piracy protection' and 'censorship.'"

He goes on to point out that this also shows "the failure on the part of lawmakers to understand how the Internet works."
This new legislation, if enacted, would strike at the very core of the way the Internet has been structured. Sharing, openness, and participation are at the core of what the Internet represents. When it comes to a choice between an open Internet and an Internet of walled gardens patrolled by government censors, there is no doubt which is preferable. As Booz & Co. pointed out in a recent study, the SOPA legislation could lead to a decline in Internet innovation.

The Chinese government attempts to portray dissidents as "pirates" and "rogues" outside the system. Entertainment interests are taking a similar approach, and have found what they consider to be the perfect bogeymen: the "rogue" sites and "overseas pirates" who steal content and make it available elsewhere on the Internet at a cheaper price. Under the cover of protecting intellectual property and making the Internet safe again for users, they risk destroying what makes the Internet so special and attractive to innovators and investors alike.
A really strong piece in a very mainstream source. This isn't just about a few "pirates" complaining -- as SOPA defenders would have you believe. This is a widespread recognition that censorship and massive regulation of the internet, just because Hollywood refuses to adapt, is not in anyone's best interest.

Filed Under: censorship, dominic basulto, mainstream press, sopa


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  1. identicon
    hothmonster, 18 Nov 2011 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    SOPA can be used to suppress anything with a mere letter from a private citizen and then puts the burden of proof on the accused to prove there are not in violation of the law.

    I could take a photo and get copyright on it. Put a link to it on techdirt and then send letters to payment processors and techdirt's hosting company and every ISP in the country and have TD blocked/shut down. Now TD has to defend itself and in the mean time it is blocked. I can do this every time the site comes back up. I can do this to any website or company that says or does something I don't like whether what they do is legal or not. If I say have some staffers I could pay to do this all day long, *cough* viacom *cough*, I could effectively destroy anyone who can't afford a full time lawyer. Sure it might be easy to argue the first time you get reported but if you are getting 20 reports a day do you think the ISPs and CC companies are going to take a chance and turn service back on without a court order? No fucking way.

    That is how you use this bill to censor

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