PROTECT-IP/E-PARASITE Act Gets A White House Petition

    November 2, 2011
    Josh Wolford

The E-PARASITEs act (formerly known as the PROTECT-IP act) is still floating around Congress, and the threat of its passing has many internet denizens worried.

The bill would essentially require service providers to block access to certain sites, dependent on the accusation that they promote copyright infringement. The Senate-introduced PROTECT IP Act stated that the target of the new laws were sites that were “dedicated to infringing activities. Once the bill got into the House and was given its fancy new name, the reach was greatly expanded to target any “foreign infringing sites.”

As TechDirt explains:

They’re also including an “inducement” claim not found elsewhere in US regulations — and which greatly expands what is meant by inducement. The bill effectively takes what the entertainment industry wanted the Supreme Court to say in Grokster (which it did not say) and puts it into US law. In other words, any foreign site declared by the Attorney General to be “inducing” infringement, with a very broad definition of inducing, can now be censored by the US. With no adversarial hearing. Hello, Great Firewall of America.

Many worry that this will lead to a less-than-free internet that can be censored based on the whims of the entertainment industry. A deeper discussion of the implications of the bill can be found here.

The E-PARASITE act has a lot of people upset, and some have taken to the White House petition site We the People to express their concern.

We the People was launched back in September as a way for citizens to propose their own ideas to the White House via online petitions. Last month, The White House responded to a particular petition regarding student loan forgiveness, that turned out to be the backbone of a plan unveiled on the same day by President Obama.

Not every White House response to these petitions has pleased the petitioners, as one concerning the legalization of marijuana infuriated many on internet communities such as reddit.

Nevertheless, a new petition has sprung up on the site calling for the administration to “stop the e-parasite act.”

Here’s what they have to say:

This Bill would allow essentially allow A Great Firewall of America and would be a shameful desecration of free speech and any sort of reasonable copyright law. The new Law would allow copyright holders to force websites which have any copyrighted material to be blocked by ISP companies around the country, without requiring that the websites be given time to take the offending material down. It would also put pressure on ISP companies to monitor their users like never before, a gross invasion of privacy. This bill is a direct assault on a free internet and a shameful attempt by copyright lobbyists to destroy net neutrality. Essentially it’s a censorship law that would end the internet as we know it in America.

Created on Monday, the petition already has over 7,000 signatures. In order to warrant a response from the White House, it has to reach 25,000 signatures by November 30th. It looks like it will reach its goal way before that deadline.

Another interesting example of opposition has popped up on the interwebs today, as reddit has unearthed an opposition letter for the PROTECT-IP act, written back in July of this year. The opposition letter is signed by 108 law professors from colleges across 31 different states.

What are your thoughts on this legislation? Let us know in the comments.