While our “representatives” are debating the Internet censorship bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) other agents of the state are busy coercing other government’s into enacting various forms of Internet censorship:
Though a deeply divided Congress is currently considering Internet website censorship legislation, the US has no such official policy—not even for child porn, which is voluntarily blocked by some ISPs. Nor does the US have a government-backed “three strikes” or “graduated response” system of escalating warnings to particular users accused of downloading music and movies from file-sharing networks.
Yet here was the ultimatum that the US Embassy in Madrid gave the Spanish government in February 2008: adopt such measures or we will punish you. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have the text of the diplomatic cable announcing the pressure tactics.
We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a [Government of Spain] announcement stating that Internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 “circular” that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GoS [Government of Spain] will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing Internet piracy by the summer of 2009.
The Watch List referenced is the US Trade Representative’s “Special 301” list, updated annually. Spain was duly put on the list in 2008 after failing to take such measures. (“The United States is concerned by the Spanish government’s inadequate efforts to address the growing problem of Internet piracy, described by U.S. copyright industries as one of the worst in Europe,” said the 2008 report.) Spanish copyright holders applauded the move; indeed, the cables show that they repeatedly asked US officials to make it.
At least United States citizens aren’t the only people on the federal government’s watch lists. Whether through direct invasion or underhanded threats the government of the United States likes to force other countries to obey its bidding. What’s frightening about this is when the government here finally enacts Internet censorship legislation there are going to be fewer safe havens that can be proxied into.
The United States isn’t satisfied until the entire world is one big fucking police state. What’s next? Is our government going to give the Spanish government military weaponry to better suppress it’s citizens? Wait, that already happened (what’s really sad is I was going to make that quip but did a quick Google search to ensure it wasn’t false, my default assumption was that the United States had given Spain military aid at some point and apparently it was the correct assumption).