Your Government and Free Speech

I’m sure it’s apparent to anybody who has been reading this site for any extent of time that I’m not a fan of the state. The reason for this is because they managed to find new ways of fucking over the citizenry ever day. Take for example the Bill of Rights which guarantees certain protections against the government; that bill means nothing as the government has basically chosen to ignore those pesky little attempts at protecting the citizenry from tyranny. This time I’m not talking about the second amendment but the first. Behold the next wave of censoring free speech, the PROTECT IP Act:

Surprise! After months in the oven, the soon-to-be-released new version of a major US Internet censorship bill didn’t shrink in scope—it got much broader. Under the new proposal, search engines, Internet providers, credit card companies, and ad networks would all have cut off access to foreign “rogue sites”—and such court orders would not be limited to the government. Private rightsholders could go to court and target foreign domains, too.

As for sites which simply change their domain name slightly after being targeted, the new bill will let the government and private parties bring quick action against each new variation.

As the bill hasn’t be placed onto government websites yet a leaked copy of the text can be found here. The bottom line is this bill isn’t good. So long as somebody can claim a website violates their copyright they can have the site shutdown. This wouldn’t be so bad if the copyright laws in the United States weren’t so fucked up but I’m sure we all remember the Righthaven fiasco.

And the bill doesn’t stop at simply censoring “rouge” domains:

But what the PROTECT IP Act gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. While the definition of targeted sites is tighter, the remedies against such sites get broader. COICA would have forced credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa to stop doing business with targeted sites, and it would have prevented ad networks from working with such sites. It also suggested a system of DNS blocking to make site nominally more difficult to access.

This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to censorship. It’s trivial to claim a site violates somebody’s copyright under current United States law so it would be trivial to shut down somebody whom you disagree with. Likewise it would take little effort for the government to shutdown a website critical of itself by simply finding a copyright holder who’s material was quoted at some point on that website.

The debate over this bill will be entertaining to watch.