The battle rages on between lovers of the free Internet and a big government hellbent on controlling the only semblance of a fair and balanced media that still exists.
An onslaught of bills have been introduced worldwide which seek to criminalize the fundamental way that information is freely shared. Among the most comprehensive:
ACTA – Recently struck down by the European Parliament in a 478 to 39 vote after street protests swept across Europe. However, ACTA has already been signed in the United States. ACTA allows accusers of copyright infringement to bypass judicial review. Lack of “due process” makes these bills and ACTA unconstitutional and violates the Magna Carta, a charter signed in 1215 on which most Western law is based, including the US Constitution. (Source)
PIPA – A massive protest in January generated over 7 million petition signatures, which caused the bill to be postponed. Some of the most popular websites on the planet blackened their pages to protest the PROTECT IP Act, (S. 968), which threatens free access to information on the Web by allowing accusers to shut down an entire website – even shared platforms like Twitter, WordPress and YouTube, because of a single copyright violation. (Source)
OPEN – Darrell Issa (CA-R) and 24 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 3782. The bill claims to only target foreign websites for digital trade violations, while keeping Americans free to surf and post, but the bill’s wording was wide open to pursue American sites. (Source)
CISPA – The grandaddy of cyber legislation, ushering in fascism to the Internet by giving full control to the Department of Defense and all of its satellite federal agencies and private contractors to surveil and wage cyberwar. (Source)
Resistance has been strong, but Big Brother remains motivated to move in by stealth if necessary, as evidenced by a new related bill that seeks to sneak a previously defeated piece of SOPA past an unsuspecting public.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been at the forefront of keeping the public informed about the myriad ways that our (s)elected representatives are attempting to usher in tyranny to the free market of ideas known as the World Wide Web.
As Adi Kamdar writes:
Even after millions rallied against the passage of SOPA/PIPA, the House is still quietly trying to pass a related bill that would give the entertainment industry more permanent, government-funded spokespeople. The Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on Lamar Smith’s IP Attaché Act (PDF), a bill that increases intellectual property policing around the world. The Act would create an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, as well as broaden the use of IP attachés in particular U.S. embassies. (The attachés were notably present in Sec. 205 of SOPA—which was also introduced by Smith.) [Source]
Kamdar rightly states that this empowers Hollywood with “traveling foot soldiers” that become content commissars by virtue of being “IP Attachés.” – or world ambassadors for Internet censorship. In so doing, it creates yet another pyramid of control and intimidation that seeks to corral content through the ever-present threat of copyright violations.
So far, private copyright trolls have been repeatedly defeated (here and here for a couple recent examples), as judge after judge has ruled their lawsuits to be completely without merit. However, with this new piece of legislation, the federal government very well could create its own copyright troll goon squad at the behest of establishment lobbyists and their easily bought-and-paid-for congressmen.
Please continue following any mention of Internet regulation no matter how slick the veneer, as the final nail in the coffin of free expression and sharing of information contrary to the establishment media could arrive at any time, cloaked in ways we might not yet suspect.
It is clear that despite overwhelming public outcry, there are those in Congress such as Lamar Smith who clearly serve a different master.