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Bill Promises To Censor the Internet

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Bill Promises To Censor the Internet
[ Technology]

The PROTECT-IP bill is making its way through the halls of the United States government, and besides an unfortunate name change, the bill has been altered by the House of Representatives in such a way, it would essentially allow the government and/or various corporations that feel infringed upon the ability to censor the Internet in whatever way they see fit.

Should the United States government be allowed to censor the Internet to fit their own whims and desires? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Perhaps that last part is wrapped in some hyperbole, but then again, after reading portions of the updated bill, as well as some of the reactions to it, it’s pretty clear that, if passed, the American public could soon be using a very different version of the Internet than what we’re used to. The sad thing is, besides a small section of informed reactions to the bill, very few in the American public seem to know and/or care about the implications of PROTECT-IP, which, thanks to input from House of Representatives, now goes by the unfortunately-named E-PARASITE Act.

Here’s an embed of the document, although, it’s doubtful anyone outside of the tech/Internet sector will actually concern themselves with it:

E-PARASITES Act

Even search engines like Google are affected by the contents of the bill. When discussing foreign sites that have been suspected of infringement, the bill’s text reads:

INTERNET SEARCH ENGINES
A provider of an Internet search engine shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order, designed to prevent the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order, or a portion of such site specified in the order, from being served as a direct hypertext link.

Which sounds an awful lot like if a Google search returns a link to a site like The Pirate Bay, they will be asked to remove and/or block the link, thanks to a government order. Over at TechDirt, such governmental actions are being compared to the creation of a Great Firewall of America, obviously taking its queue from China’s iron fist control of Internet content its citizens have access to.

It should also be noted that foreign sites deemed as being an infringement tool are not given any due process to protect/defend the property. ArsTechnica has more:

The bill gives government lawyers the power to go to court and obtain an injunction against any foreign website based on a generally single-sided presentation to a judge. Once that happens, Internet providers have 5 days to “prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site.”

Furthermore, the bill would make programs like the MafiaaFire Redirector, something Mozilla has already successfully backed in the face of Homeland Security pressure, would now be illegal. For those who may not know, when a user tries to access a site that’s been taken down by the ICE squad, those with the MafiaaFire Redirector plugin are redirected to an alternate domain for the ICE’d site.

Under PROTECT-IP/E-PARASITES, such a program would be under attack from the Attorney General:

To ensure compliance with orders issued pursuant to this section, the Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive relief… against any entity that knowingly and willfully provides or offers to provide a product or service designed or marketed for the circumvention or bypassing…

And these scenarios are just some of the nonsense being introduced in the bill that would give the government power to censor the Internet towards its own desires, all in an effort to protect what TechDirt refers to as “a few legacy companies in the entertainment industry refuse to adapt.”

If you are unaware of the implications of PROTECT-IP/E-PARASITE, allow the following video to educate you:


Now, before the replies of “you just want to be able to pirate without worry” start pouring in, it should be noted that I have downloaded before, but that’s not what my perspective is about. If I get caught, I’m not going to blame the site that hosted the torrent/file/content I stole. I did the crime, so I should have to pay the price for being caught, and that’s something I’ve long understood.

It’s not Pirate Bay’s fault I download files, it’s mine, a stance that should clue you in on my position towards censoring the Internet.

The sad thing is, if you walked down the street of any city in America, asking people their thoughts on the bill, it’s doubtful you’d get much in the way of meaningful reaction. Sure, a few would be informed, but by and large, as long as American Internet users can access Facebook and Twitter, as well as throwaway nonsense like TMZ, they don’t seem to be very interested in informing themselves about who is governing the Internet and the intentions behind the rules being passed.

With that in mind, when reading about PROTECT-IP, I’m reminded of the following scene from Revenge of the Sith:


However, instead of applause, it seems that apathy or ignorance rules the day. Where are the #Occupy crowds when you really need them? In other news, considering the powerful telecommunications lobbyists, and the sway they have over the US Government, one wonders why Google hasn’t tried to grease the wheels in favor of an uncensored Internet instead of just hanging out with the Net Coalition crew.

How much control is too much? Let us know what you think.

Lead image courtesy.

Bill Promises To Censor the Internet
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  • Steven

    Why do we honestly need legislation for anybody to take action and remove links to sites that link to or allow for illegal activities?

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Geeze, why not just ask Congress to do away with intellectual property rights altogether so we can go back to supporting artists and performers through an unregulated patronage system?

    Does no one understand the history behind IPR law?

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

      So you’re saying you trust the government to censor the Internet? Maybe I’m misunderstanding…

  • http://www/wahinfo.com/ Danielle from Work At Home Info

    This could either be a really good idea or just one of those things that we think will turn out to be great, but turns out to be useless. I also understand that downloading torent/file content is illegal but in all honesty, the government should be cracking down on real issues, rather than people who download files over the internet. It’s just one of those things that’s been going on for so long that it’s pretty much sinceless to try and do something about it now.

  • http://www.nleff.com Nancy Leffingwell

    We do not need another regulation. I’ve been working with the Web for over 18 years. It’s not perfect, but neither is our government.

  • http://www.presidentofgalaxy.com presidentofgalaxy

    Matt Cuts from Google wrote on Twitter that he read Protect IP-law…

  • http://cozumelmexico.net Bob Rodriguez

    Absolutely NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What ever happened to the first amendment!

    IF they do succeed, expect the law to be challenged in court.

    Besides, doesn’t the government have something better to do? Like create JOBS?

  • http://www.NaturalDogTraining.INFO Paul Anderson

    This is the part that is most disturbing: “..allow various corporations that feel infringed upon the ability to censor the Internet in whatever way they see fit.” This is basically license for anarchy.

    Correct me if I am wrong – but this new bill appears to state that if a corporation is big enough – like, say, a pharmaceutical company – they can simply shut down their opposition because it “infringes upon” their profits? That will leave only monopolies in the market place.

    Does any one know if the bill really means that “corporations can censor the internet in any way that they seem fit.”?

    • Greg

      No, it doesn’t. What it really means is that an internet service provider cannot be sued for blocking content that it feels infringes a company’s intellectual property rights. So if someone is selling bootleg viagra, AOL can bock their site and not worry about being sued if it turns out that they were somehow mistaken in believing that the site was selling bootleg viagra. What it does do is give corporations more power to lean on those in charge of the information gatekeepers of the internet to help them enforce the property rights they currently enjoy under US law. The issues are
      1. whether or not the internet should remain a sort of Wild West (there are arguments on both sides of that debate), and,
      2. are current US laws regarding pharmaceuticals and other intellectual property laws really fair?

      If you don’t want ISP’s to be in a position of feeling the need to enforce US intellectual property law, then you should be against the bill.

      If you think intellectual property law is fair, and that it’s not right for pirates to profit from other people’s creative endeavors (and, crucially, you feel that ISPs have a role to play in this, and are not too worried about undue pressure from big pharma and big entertainment), then you should be for it.

  • http://blogbiertjuh58.blogspot.com/ JB

    I don’t live in the US, but this could be the start of something I don’t like as an inhabitant of the world. I say ‘Nay’…

  • George Galbraith

    I think the internet should be essentially free from censorship. And government should not have powers over it. It may be possible to have a non-political forum or organisation which might have certain powers to say limit access to sites deemed dangerous to public safety. But I don’t think government fulfilling this function is appropriate or desirable, simply because it would leave the internet open to propaganda and vested interest abuse. A definite ‘no’ from me.

  • JMAnon

    I like these polls with emotionally loaded questions designed to appeal only to the already converted.
    Hence:
    “Should the United States government be allowed to censor the Internet to fit their own whims and desires?”
    Yes, obviously the poll intends that no one should want the internet censored.
    The real question should be:

    It is a natural consequence that “freedom” to do as one likes leads to some serious abuses. Therefore it has to be considered inevitable that sooner or later attempts will be made to impose regulation.
    This is very definitely a role for government acting on behalf of the people who elect them to represent them.

    The real questions should be:
    “Is there a need for regulation of the internet?”
    Yes.
    To stop criminal organisations exploiting the internet. Examples: any frauds which use the internet.
    Email scams.
    etc etc.
    “Is the government the right organisation to censor the internet?”
    Answer: who else?
    “How can we be sure they will act responsibly and in the best interests of the general public?”
    Same as with anything givernment does. We can’t. We just have to ensure we are active in being heard. appropriate NGOs need acreditation by the steering comittees and they need to genuinely represent the users. Trouble with that is NGOs usually have their own agendas which don’t always represent the people beyond the initial establishement. They are then hijacked by anarchists etc. and pursue a quite different agenda under th disguise of the original NGO.
    Anyone who thinks the internet can remain free and unregulated has serious reality problems. Polls such as this divert attention from meaningful activity.

  • http://www.sfpincchicago.com Gregory L. Dennis

    Why do we need the government to tell us what to do/censor anything?? Don’t we have bigger problems??

    Oh, wait…that’s right…we DON’T have anything else for our government to worry about…it’s not like we have American servicemembers in a foreign land or a massive worldwide recession to worry about…I can totally see our government having other concerns if the above was the case, but clearly, since none of the above conditions apply, it’s clear our government just has our best interests in mind. Our government should TOTALLY do ANYTHING they feel is right in order to protect me, because I am not an adult of legal voting age and don’t have the necessary mental capacity to protect myself when working online and require my government to tell me what I should do. As a matter of fact, whenever I am faced with a difficult decision, I always call my congressman so he can advise me on
    what to do and then follow his instructions to the letter.

  • http://www.thewheeleragency.com car insurance

    Censoring is always an act of judgement and until we have leaders who have perfect judgement, we will suffer from inept censoring. Balancing protection from harm with freedom of expression is like asking a pendulum to find its perfect middle without moving.

  • Jones

    The internet should remain free…Why does the government insist on watching over everyone from cradle to grave? The hackers and (underground) web developers will have a field day if this ever passed, they look at this kind of stuff as a challenge. Every time the government gets their grubby little paws into something it has unintended consequences. Anyone voting for this crap needs to be shown the door…How much you want to bet that sites that should never be banned wind up being banned…Think about this, a company says their competitor is “using” theirs or someone else’s intellectual property on their site, the IP police are called in, they shutdown the site until a complete investigation is done, knowing how slow the wheels of government move it could take years to get the site re-opened and this could happen on an oops, it looks like you weren’t actually using someone else’s intellectual property after all, imagine the millions of dollars in taxpayer money it will take when the lawsuit is filed and after the settlement is awarded. I tell you, this is a slippery slope.

  • http://www.ramsitedesign.com/ Rodney Fifield

    I don’t think anyone should be able to censor the internet

  • Kevin fitzmaurice-Brown

    The american government, controlled by the Fed and big money is scared of the internet. Scared of the people. I.D. cards were for control not to protect from terrorism. The banks wanted to keep tabs on people. The great freedom and democracy of america is no more. Even previous presidents and great economists and writers in america have warned of the banks control.

    The banks have created the wars in order to regain money. That did not work. they praised the peoples ability in Egypt etc. and the ‘ Arab Spring ‘ and its use of the internet. Now real trouble is coming the economy is collapsing and the few will make billions and control all. If you, the American people wish to retain any form of democracy you will stop this bill.
    Its fear and control by the banks and big companies. They are too stupid and greedy to understand they too will fall and anarchy will prevail.
    Your choice you are the 99%

  • Severin

    Anyone who thinks the government will act in their best interest is a total fool!!! The government acts in the interest of the corporation and America is a corporation for those of you who do NOT know the true history of this (corporation) country. If people truly want to stop that bill from becoming law… start the grassroot movement by fundraising lots of MONEY (Big Stick – to stick up the asses of those who write laws in favor of corporations) and send a representative (lobbyist) to Washington to represent those of us who do not have a voice (MONEY) to stand up against the government(corporation).

  • John

    Noooooooooooo! If corporations what to Censor what comes into their building thats fine, but the Government needs to do other things other than worry about the Internet, like do the jobs there were elected for.
    Remember to Vote Out all of the people that are currently in office. Its time for a real change

    • Severin

      Yeah John, voting is great but if corporation is hiring your president/congressmen/congresswomen do you think his/she is going to act in your best interest? When corporations and their lobbyist stop paying off (contribution funds) your lawmakers then we can have true justice until then you will be playing their game and it does not favor you my friend!

      • John Dogan

        So true!!!!

  • will maxwell

    I am not against internet security, but remember, if you take away from one person, whats to prevent someone from taking away from YOU. The only internet monitoring I will be in favor is not reelect anyone. Get these self proclaimed “do gooders” out. They should be doing the will of the people electing them, not thinking of themselves as a god, the great protector of the flocks. So while I think within an organization, they have a right to censor their own infrastructure, but not the personal an employee might bring with them. nuff said.

  • http://www.4rx-pharmacy.com My1Rx

    We already have Google controlling the internet and we don’t need another entity stepping in. JP.

  • Pamela Harper

    With all of the things the government SHOULD be doing, it amazes me that they take the time to try to be the nannies of the internet. Methinks that we the people are receiving too much valuable information about the goings on in DC & that is what scares them. Think about all the info you have got from the net & are able to immediately voice your opinion right then & there. They are scared of the bloggers that put “need to know” info out there for us. Politics have changed & they don’t like it. NO REGULATIONS ON THE NET!!!!

  • John Dogan

    I believe that it is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. Liberty and free speech this has to apply to the Internet as well.

    • Paradox

      Liberty and Free speech are no more. The Declaration of Independence is being destroyed right before our very eyes and we have done NOTHING to stop them. Every year there is a new freedom taken away in the name of “Protection” and “Safety”. It will continue to get worse thanks to all who complain on these forums but turn around and do nothing. You’re all a bunch of big mouth, punk ass, cowards if you dont protest this in a bigger way than bitching and moaning on this site. In fact, Im out!!

  • Matthew K.

    If the internet becomes censored, the people will simply create something different which will be unanimously controlled by the public sector.

    If you want to block your own gov. employees from viewing certain websites, download cybersitter. Don’t force it upon the very citizens who have the power over you.

  • http://amcdwebsolutions.com Annett

    Sounds to me like the government and big corporations are trying to get the total control over this country. Didn’t Orwell write a book about this? Isn’t China trying to do that and we complain about them?

  • AGE

    No they should not, internet is part of freedom of speech especially since the radio and tv and such are such difficult mediums to use for the everyday joe. This is pure bullshit at its finest, if the gov would do what they are supposed to do for the people maybe they wouldnt have to worry about junk all the time but oh well. GL former USA

  • http://www.mycashforums.com matt

    I say we vote these people outta office and get some new people this is ridiculous ,there are more important issues that need to be done why the heck are they worried about the inernet geesh

  • kate

    “Censoring”, my ar**.

    This bill does NOT censor. For anyone who says that, including the journo, they are misinformed. This is not about censoring per say, it’s about protecting broken business models by forcing private industry to comply with arcaine government regulations. An entirely different shady industry.

    The world is beholden to American Media companies, and it sickens me. Instead of dealing with violence, abhorrent sexual material, and hate speech, the United States Congress decides to attack breaches of intellectual property. Oh, and then goes and condemns the Australian Government for attempting to actually “clean up” the internet.

    The American Government are the biggest pack of hypocrites bar China. Shame on America.

  • Bill

    Read White Hat Reports You will soon see what is going on

    TKS

  • jurgy

    every time the government gets involved, it makes things worse – freedoms are lost, costs increase, unintended consequences hurt someone else – the less government in our lives, the better our lives

  • Bill

    Read Global World Settlements and White Hat Reports and you will soon find the reason of censorship and they are trying fast.

  • drewdee

    The wool is already over your eyes, this would just add another layer…
    No i am not a conspiracy theorist, the strings are already being pulled on our political puppets, both by us, and the corporations, the only difference here, is that the corporations have all of the money.

    The golden rule: He who has gold, makes the rules.

    I agree with JB, this world is folding, time to move… :P

  • http://www.sensuousnights.ca Sensuous Nights

    In a recent battle in Saskatchewan against No-Fault Insurance(we sort of won, ask your lawyers about the coalition against no-fault) I learned a valuable lesson most people don’t understand legislation but worst of all they don’t want to! They are perfectly willing to let government do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t effect them in a negative manner. Even worse then that when legislation does effect them in a negative manner they won’t say crap if their mouths are full of it! If big government puts their toe in the internet waters you can guarantee that before long they will be bathing in it! So long internet it was nice knowing you…

  • andre

    LOL this is such a waste of time, everything they do can be very easily bypassed and they would not be able to track you. Sad it has come to this, the internet was born free and will fight back to stay that way.

    This will just turn into a huge money eating monster for the government to maintain that is not even working. Like the gun registry in canada.

  • http://WebsiteHelpsite.com Dusty

    Book burning anyone?

    Alex Jones at infowars.com has already had a YouTube video removed for “speaking against the government”. He recently posted an article about this and spoke about it on his radio show last week.

    This is an unconstitutional move to limit free speech and free press. It is in lock-step with other moves from the government, like being groped to get on a plane. Now the Gestapo-like checkpoints are on highways. It doesn’t take a vast majority to fight for freedom and win. There are 312 million Americans. A determined sub-group of these people could raise a hue and cry about this and be effective. If they censor something, groups of people should put that stuff back up, over and over until we make our point that we refuse to be boxed up.

    We should also gather the names of our public employees who voted to censor us. They should be voted out of office asap. Their NAMES should be circulated widely and put onto websites that respond to the search term “should I vote for [name].”

    Lots of articles should be posted, naming the politicians who don’t care a whit about the right to free speech or press, but prefer to do their deeds in darkness.

    Americans are ingenious. We will find away to combat and win against this censorship.

  • http://www.123webconnect.com Vince

    Another shot at nullifying the Constitution. What’s next, state run media?

    • JB

      Ahem, heard of Fox News, CNN, CBC, ABC? Yeah, practically state run. At least, run by the same corporations who own the US government.

  • Preetis

    excellent, we need such laws all across the world, people who are doing piracy is taking each and every law for granted, but this one shall definitely put some breaks, Piracy is a big issue and have to be handled in this way atleast.

  • http://www.nationwideconcealedcarry.com John Longenecker

    When the totalitarian powers began their takeovers, they first took over the guns and the lines of communication both. They knew that those who owned weapons (registration) were also those with the spirit to speak out and rouse others to protect their nation. These takeovers were always hostile we can now see, and never for the good of the people. Silencing the people and denying them the means of comparing notes and identifying hostile patterns and illegal governance are usually the first to go under color of some ‘necessity’. This diminishes the knowledge and the spirit of the people to resist.

    There is no ‘necessity’ for controlling the Internet, but there is a necessity for keeping it free.

  • http://www.nationwideconcealedcarry.com John Longenecker

    … and while you’re at it, could you knock off the stupid pop-ups?

    Now, THAT would be reform!!!

  • http://networkedtraffic.com Pat Gunning

    Piracy is just the excuse used to gain more control over the free market… What we need is less Govt regulation not more…

    • JB

      That’s bullshit. How is putting controls on pirating letting the free market grow? Both corporate/business AND state control of the economy is bad, sir. We need control of the economy by the people, and piracy is one method of doing just that.

      Digital information is free nowadays, people only pay if they want to pay, because they think the creators deserve money for their efforts, but I don’t feel like supporting massive record companies, hollywood or large game studios like EA, so I pirate their products. Whereas I always buy independent, small-scale products legally.

    • Bri

      I totally agree, & it is sad that they are trying to pass this in such a hush hush manner. I just found out about this today & am Pissed

  • Colorado Dave

    Are we turning into China now?

  • Chad

    Well if someone would create a online petition against this I would gladly sign my name to it and post a link to in in all my social sites etc.

    I have to say I’m a little disappointed that when I got to the end of reading this that their wasn’t a link to the online petition – in fact I was so mad that I immediately googled to see if one existed….nope, not there (yet).

    I would love to see someone put one together and submit a link to it.

  • http://IraMencyDesigns.blogspot.com Cindy

    I can’t believe they are taking away our freedom of speech in a sense that we should be able to write what we want, read what we want, and say what we want. If that offends others, they shouldn’t be looking. They shound instead focus on software that would block discriminating sites for those who choose to live in a bubbble. For the rest of us, I say FUCK BIG BROTHER.

    • http://www.inalienablerights.org John Melchinger

      You have it right!

  • Herbert Reed

    NO……….

  • http://www.escrowrefills.com Nick Turner

    It’ s good.

    Illegal websites such as escrowrefills.com can then be closed down.
    They scam and operate illegally and no-one is doing anything about it.

    • http://www.priosoft.com Byron

      There are better ways to do that than limiting our freedom of speech.

  • http://www.priosoft.com Byron

    Let’s look just like China, Iran or Russia. I think that’s a hell of an idea. First comes control of your freedom of speech then everything else is up for grabs because you don’t know what the real truth is. That’s what happened in Germany in the 1920′s and you know the results of that.

  • I. Stewart

    Dear All,
    Writing to you from the land that was the origins of the founders of the USA, I consider that this idea is being backed by the most evil minded enemy of the States, and is called Political Correctness. It, at present, lurks within the White House, and must be removed. I cannot read the quoted Act PROTECT-IP since Fortinet/Fortiguard is blocking it. The present occupant in the White House, I believe, will possibly use this to destroy the mindset of those who laid down the foundations of America by extending those evil tentacles. It must be opposed upon principle and there must be no more crawling towards that other evilness which lurks in Brussels, and is hanging on by the skin of ite teeth. You, AMERICANS, must destroy Barack Obama. You must also watch out for Obama’s possible attempt to remove your right to bear arms and therefore to totally emasculate you and leave you at the mercy of his Islamic associates and his questionable connections with Islam and their evil spread around the world. I hope that my probably still there American “born and bred” cousins, descended from my Scottish great-uncle are of the correct mindset.

    My kindest regards,
    I.R.Stewart

  • Matt

    Follow the money. Who lobbied for and funded this new piece of legislation?

  • I. Stewart

    Dear All,
    Writing to you from the land that was the origins of the founders of the USA, I consider that this idea is being backed by the most evil minded enemy of the States, and is called Political Correctness. It, at present, lurks within the White House, and must be removed. I cannot read the quoted Act PROTECT-IP since Fortinet/Fortiguard is blocking it. The present occupant in the White House, I believe, will possibly use this to destroy the mindset of those who laid down the foundations of America by extending those evil tentacles. It must be opposed upon principle and there must be no more crawling towards that other evilness which lurks in Brussels, and is hanging on by the skin of ite teeth. You, AMERICANS, must destroy Barack Obama. You must also watch out for Obama’s possible attempt to remove your right to bear arms and therefore to totally emasculate you and leave you at the mercy of his Islamic associates and his questionable connections with Islam and their evil spread around the world. I hope that my probably still there American “born and bred” cousins, descended from my Scottish great-uncle are of the correct mindset.
    My kindest regards,
    I.R.Stewart

  • http:www.menondesign.com Das

    .

    Ah haa !
    The Devil himself says he is opposed to evil.

    Soo.. what else is new ?
    .. another attempt to control people
    under the disguise of morality and such.

    Regulations are slow, full of loop holes
    and by the time it catches up, technology will be
    in another place. Then it will look like good old
    regulations on landlines, snail mail and such.

    .

  • http://troyus23.wordpress.com/ Troy Younts

    Hell No! What country is this again?! China? Libya? Iran? Hell No you don’t not in my land!

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; …”

  • http://www.greatpuppydogs.com Mark

    And what about those sites who report on the unreported stories that go purposely ignored?

    This is a step toward deciding what is good for me – but thats just on the surface. In reality, It would assist in censoring all dirty deeds of the devil, by the devil himself.