The Death of The Internet?

Posted on December 11, 2011


           The Senate and the House are currently deliberating on two acts known as Protect IP and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that would give the government the power to curb and block online piracy websites.

One of the largest websites dedicated to online piracy.

The bill would allow copyright holders along with the Department of Justice the power to block and curb access to any rogue websites engaged in or enabling copyright infringement or other piracy acts. The bills could then require search engines to block links to that site, and may also block access to the search engines themselves if they do not comply. Furthermore, shareholders can apply for a court injunction to stop advertisements and transactions that are linked to rogue websites.

SOPA and Protect IP, if passed, would allow for the fast tracking of shutting down domain names of social networking sites such as Facebook or Tumblr for enabling piracy and copyright infringement. The blocked websites would still be able to be reached by typing in the IP address of the corresponding sites.

Support from the bill stems from organizations and corporations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NBCUniversal, Viacom, the Motion Picture Association of America, as well as labor unions such as the AFL-CIO. Businesses such as Nike, L’Oreal, Pfizer, the NBA, and Sony have also expressed their support for the bills.

Opponents of the bills stem from organizations such as Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Mozilla, Tumblr, as well as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The Tea Party Patriots expressed their opposition to the House version of the bill, arguing that it would be “bad for consumers.”

The opposition argues that the bills would infringe on the rights guaranteed by the first amendment, and would resemble a less permissive internet resembling that of China or Syria. The bills would also shut down proxy websites, many of which are being used by revolutionaries of the Arab Spring. Opposition also argues that the bills would slow or stop the commerce growth on the internet, which provided for ten percent growth in the GDP over the last fifteen years. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) called SOPA a “piece of job killing legislation.”

However, one of the biggest arguments of the opposition is that the bill’s disruption of the DNS (Domain Name Service) would destabilize the internet’s foundation, creating conflicts that would make individuals as well as corporations much more vulnerable to hacking and identity theft. The Department of Energy warned that the bill would be ineffective, and would “negatively impact US and global cyber security and internet functionality.”

The bills are still under deliberation and debate; however, the Obama administration has already displayed its disapproval, as explained in this recent release: “The Administration strongly opposes Senate passage of S.J. Res. 6, which would undermine a fundamental part of the nation’s Open Internet and innovation strategy — an enforceable, effective but flexible policy for keeping the Internet free and open.”  The White House added, “If the President is presented with S.J. Res. 6, which would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution.”

Reported by Ian Siepker

Posted in: News, Politics