How Congress Will Forever Change the Internet by January 24th

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“The freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online comprise what I have called the freedom to connect.”
~ Hillary Clinton

Update: 1/16/12: SOPA has been shelved until “consensus” can be found. House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised him the House will not vote on the bill.

Original Story: Hollywood and record producers are rightfully concerned about Internet piracy, particularly thefts by foreign sites. Something needs to be done, but it’s not with the bills before Congress – SOPA and PIPA – at least not with their current language, though the framework might be worth saving. Read about the bills here: Internet censorship or go to Thomas.gov

The bills are so poorly written and use such generalities that it could allow for any number of frivolous lawsuits. Supporters say the bill does not change copyright infringement protections while opponents say it does. The bills also permit the government shutdown of websites for any possible infringement on any one page. Websites will close down quicker than you can say the words. The bills pose cybersecurity concerns and raise free speech issues. It requires monitoring of websites in a Big Brother kind of way.

Make no mistake, this is about the future of the Web.

The major online sites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and others, who oppose the bills, are considering a blackout to get their point across and to get people to call their congressmen. I hope they do it. People must be made aware and they must call their congressmen or at least send an email.

Please contact your congressman before January 24th if you agree and tell them this bill will destroy the Internet as we know it: Contact your Representative here and Contact your Senator here

The bills have their supporters in the media and in business who say the bill is necessary. Supporters include the Chamber of Commerce, 3M, Adidas, Burberry, CVS. News Corp., and others. Read more: FoxNews

Is it too much to ask Congress to take the appropriate amount of time to make sure the bipartisan bill has the proper safeguards to allow the continuation of a free, job creator – the Internet? Congress hasn’t passed a budget in two years, but they have to pass this in three months?

Check out CNET’s analysis –

…The Sandia National Laboratories, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has also raised concerns about SOPA, saying it is “unlikely to be effective” and will “negatively impact U.S. and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.” And Stewart Baker, the former policy chief at the Department of Homeland Security who’s now in private practice, warned in an op-ed that SOPA “runs directly counter” to the House’s own cybersecurity efforts.

An analysis (PDF) of Protect IP prepared by five Internet researchers this spring lists potential security problems. Among them: it’s “incompatible” with DNSSEC, innocent Web sites will be swept in as “collateral damage,” and the blacklist can be bypassed by using the numeric Internet address of a Web site. The address for CNET.com, for instance, is currently 64.30.224.118.

What will SOPA require Internet providers to do?
A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.

“It would cover IP blocking,” says Markham Erickson, head of NetCoalition, whose members include Amazon.com, Google, eBay, and Yahoo. “I think it contemplates deep packet inspection” as well, he said.

The exact requirements will depend on what the removal order says. The Recording Industry Association of America says that SOPA could be used to force Internet providers to block by “Internet Protocol address” and deny “access to only the illegal part of the site.” It would come as no surprise if copyright holders suggested wording to the Justice Department, which would in turn seek a judge’s signature on the removal order…

…Are there free speech implications to SOPA?
SOPA’s opponents say so–a New York Times op-ed called it the “Great Firewall of America–and the language of the bill itself is quite broad. Section 103 says that, to be blacklisted, a Web site must be “directed” at the U.S. and also that the owner “has promoted” acts that can infringe copyright.

Here’s how Section 101 of the original version of SOPA defines what a U.S.-directed Web site is:

(A) the Internet site is used to provide goods or services to users located in the United States; 
(B) there is evidence that the Internet site or portion thereof is intended to offer or provide such goods and services (or) access to such goods and services (or) delivery of such goods and services to users located in the United States; 
(C) the Internet site or portion thereof does not contain reasonable measures to prevent such goods and services from being obtained in or delivered to the United States; and 
(D) any prices for goods and services are indicated or billed in the currency of the United States.

 …Laurence Tribe, a high-profile Harvard law professor and author of a treatise titled American Constitutional Law, has argued that SOPA is unconstitutional because, if enacted, “an entire Web site containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement.”…Read more at CNET

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