What’s the latest with the Internet censorship bills in Congress and what can we do to help defeat them? – Joseph
There are two bills in Congress that should concern everyone who values an open and uncensored Internet; SOPA (H.R. 3261) which stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act (S. 968) in the Senate.
When you dig into the details, it’s just another example of what is causing so much dissent in our political process – powerful lobbies pushing for legislation clearly not in the best interest of the average citizen, through legislators that have no clue about technological issues.
The Motion Picture Association of America, along with most of the power brokers in the TV and entertainment industry, are the instigators of this overbearing legislation and there seems to be total disregard (or ignorance) for the obvious collateral damage they would cause.
There are plenty of laws on the books already that allow copyright holders to force sites to take down individual postings that infringe on their content, but the powerful entertainment industry wants a bigger hammer.
When a Web site has been identified as one in violation, the law would mandate it get added to a Domain Name System blacklist that would no longer allow users in the U.S. to access it, and for credit card processors and advertising systems to cut all ties with the site.
DNS translates your alpha Web site requests into the actual numeric equivalent known as the Internet Protocol address. For instance, piratebay.org is one of the targets of this legislation because of its notoriety for hosting just about any content you don’t want to pay for.
If this legislation passes and the Web site is blacklisted, then typing piratebay.org into your web browser will render a censorship notification, but if you type 126.96.36.199, you would still be able to get to the site.
The pirating community has already created huge lists of the IP addresses for all the Web sites they presume will be the target of this legislation, rendering it completely useless for those that don’t and will never pay any attention to our laws.
Fighting piracy is critically important, but the unintended consequences of poorly-crafted legislation could have a huge impact on the future of the Internet. I urge anyone reading this to contact their representatives at http://americancensorship.org to voice their opposition immediately, as both of these bills come up for a vote on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25.
By Ken Colburn