The US government is determined to stop online piracy, even if it means turning the Internet into a full on virtual police state.
Remember the draconian COICA bill? It was very unpopular and received a lot of harsh criticism from people who care about their First Amendment rights. It wasn’t passed because of how much people hated it. This obviously angered Big Media and many other huge copyright holders.
But unfortunately the US government hasn’t given up its quest to please Big Media. You’d think that legislators would get the hint and stop trying to censor the Internet in favor of Big Media, but no, this is America after all. And when the public doesn’t like a proposed law, our government gives us another similar law that is much worse than the one that came before it.
Perhaps it is a way to punish people for resisting things that they perceive as unconstitutional?
After reading a report and a rough draft of the new anti-piracy bill on TorrentFreak and Techdirt respectively I can tell you this, “The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act” (PROTECT IP Act) is much worse than its predecessor COICA. If you value the Internet it is in your best interest to follow this emerging issue very closely.
You may have mixed feelings about P2P file sharing and Internet piracy, and that would be understandable. It’s important to know that file sharing and piracy are being used as excuse to go after the First Amendment in the digital realm. It’s another boogeyman that you are supposed to be afraid of. This time it’s not even a freaking person!
This bill isn’t designed to protect creativity or intellectual property; it’s designed to give corporations and government unprecedented power to control free speech and the sharing of information.
Big Media claims that piracy and file sharing is destroying their business model and so therefore it is destroying the economy. That’s why the text of the bill tries to make it sound like this is all going to be done for the sake of protecting the public’s best interests:
“Copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods are reported to cost American creators and producers billions of dollars and to result in hundreds of thousands in lost jobs annually. This pervasive problem has assumed an especially threatening form on the Internet.”
Lost jobs? Hmm. That’s a big political concern right now. Can you see how they want the gullible masses to be scared of what will happen if this bill isn’t passed?
This bill greatly increases the government’s power to go after alleged copyright infringers, that is something people should be very worried about. But it will also allow private copyright holders to use some of the same tools as the Government does to stop copyright enforcement and intellectual property protection. Can you image a world where News Corp has the same power as the government to go after "dangerous" copyright infringers?
Government and copyright holders will be able to shut you down without due process. I hope you don’t have a website that shares controversial information or anything like that. Because if this new bill is passed there won’t be very much stopping the government from claiming that you need to be shut down for the good of our national security.
And of course, nowhere in the bill does it mention any of the constitutional issues that come with granting government and Big Media power to police the Internet.
Nope we are just given an assurance that this legislation is in the best interest of the public because it will protect people from any website that “endangers the public health.” And if the government seizes your website or shuts it down the only protection you have is that you can “petition the court to suspend or vacate the order.” But in the past we’ve seen that can take up to several months if you can even get them to listen to you at all.
You can expect the government to cram this bill down our throats in the near future. Are copyright infringers the new "terrorists"? They might be if this bill passes.
Do you really want the government to decide what websites are appropriate for the public? That is what this bill will do. Do yourself a favor and go and skim the rough copy of this bill. Even if you don’t like file sharing or P2P, it should be pretty clear that this bill is an attack on free speech.
You can add your name to a petition to stop this bill. It might help.