Federal legislation purporting to protect online intellectual property will impose sweeping new government mandates that will permit the Justice Department to shut down any internet site it doesn’t like (and cut off its sources of income) on nothing more than a whim.
The hits just keep coming.
The last bastion of free speech and information is about to be legislated away by Congress, and grant this tyrannical behemoth of a federal mammoth, the power to silence and shut down any web site, blog or critical commentary it does not like, under the guise of stopping those who steal online movies, essentially criminalizing the internet.
The US Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are Orwellian in scope, and will empower the government to patrol and have the ability to shut down and remove blogs, web sites and forums that are merely accused of or suspected of engaging in ‘copyright infringement’ without charge or trial.
[The] government [will have]the power to cut off Web sites unreasonably. They could be shut down, and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo could be stopped from linking to them.
“The solutions are draconian,” Schmidt said Tuesday at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “There’s a bill that would require ISPs [Internet service providers] to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.”
Even the liberal Lawrence Tribe warns about the unConstitutionality of these measures:
SOPA provides that a complaining party can file a notice alleging that it is harmed by the activities occurring on the site ‘or portion thereof .’ Conceivably, an entire website containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement. Such an approach would create severe practical problems for sites with substantial user-generated content, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and for blogs that allow users to post videos, photos, and other materials.”And likewise: “The notice-and-termination procedure of Section 103(a) runs afoul of the ‘prior restraint’ doctrine, because it delegates to a private party the power to suppress speech without prior notice and a judicial hearing. This provision of the bill would give complaining parties the power to stop online advertisers and credit card processors from doing business with a website,merely by filing a unilateral notice accusing the site of being ‘dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ — even if no court has actually found any infringement. The immunity provisions in the bill create an overwhelming incentive for advertisers and payment processors to comply with such a request immediately upon receipt.”
Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.
Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.
Think about that for a moment. Any liberal mainstream media site, who is in the tank for Obama, or by behest of those they support, can claim copyright infringement and have forums, blogs and other internet discussion groups talking about the news they write, blocked and taken down without so much as a hearing. And to coerce your ISP to ‘do as they say’ by yanking your site – the Hill reports:
…SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.