Why the 1% shouldn't control the Internet

Posted by David Gomez

An alternative to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act will likely be announced today. The problem?

The new legislation won’t stop the big media and entertainment industries from trying to control the Internet.

According to CNET, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is getting ready to announce the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN). Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa claim the alternative backs away from the censorship approach, and that it will fight Internet piracy the same way the government fought WikiLeaks.
 
They want banks and financial organizations to cut off all sources of funding from the people  accused of being Internet pirates. They also want a government agency, the US International Trade Commission (ITC), to assume responsibility for combating piracy.
    
The first red flag? The way the politicians are classifying who the pirates are. The OPEN Act will be introduced today, but reports of its existence were published six days ago. In those earlier stories they use the WikiLeaks example of how the government persuaded (likely threatened) banks and PayPal-type services to stop transferring donations to the organization.
    
They proudly boast about the effectiveness of this method, noting that WikiLeaks may be on its last legs financially. The problem? WikiLeaks is not a piracy website dedicated to infringing on the outdated system of copyrights and intellectual property. Rather, WikiLeaks is a whistleblowing operation that  exposes government secrets and lies to the public.
    
WikiLeaks had its funding cut off because the government did not like what it had to say. The controversial decision had absolutely nothing to do with protecting the economy from piracy or bad guys. The fact that they would use WikiLeaks as an example and expect the public to accept it shows you how government is largely comprised of hacks who think regular people are chumps in desperate need of guidance (control).
   
The second problem? They want to put the ITC in charge of determining who the pirates are, and then cut off all sources of funding via the big banks. Is there anyone out there that really thinks handing over the piracy fight to ITC bureaucrats is the best thing for free speech on the Internet?
    
Who usually gets the most access to bureaucrats? It’s typically organizations who have money and power. Like the people who kicked off the drive to limit speech on the Internet, the media and entertainment industries.
    
All of these attempts to limit the ways people share on the Internet have been presented as economic issues. We’re supposed to fear job losses because the evil pirates who want free entertainment are killing some of the biggest industries in the world. But the thing is, the movie and music industries seem to be doing just fine. People are still going to movies and paying for them, and hell, look at the fourth Twilight movie which is raking in the cash big time.
    
Oh, and there are apps known as iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu Plus where people are actually paying money for entertainment. If everyone around the world were stealing from the music and entertainment industries, wouldn’t they have gone out of business by now?
    
The industry claims it is losing billions each year because there is no government action, but most people should be able to realize this isn't true.
    
Government hacks like legislation such as Internet control laws because it opens the door for them to shut down websites that want to keep them honest. Big entertainment and media companies like such draconian laws because it gives them government protection through force. Who wouldn’t love a business model that is protected by the use of government force? Big Business fears innovation and change because it means the industry may not be able to make as much money as it once did. Technology is forcing them to have to change and they simply don't like it.
    
The music and movie industry should deal with their problems without government intervention, and the government should not be given any more power to control the Internet. Can we please stop accepting the idea that these laws are meant to protect everyone?