How to kill the Internet
Ominous moves from the US Senate could mean the end of web freedom
By Mark Gibbs | Network World US | Published: 12:00, 08 November 2010
And it is also obvious what the consequences of this bill would be: It would short-circuit any claims that the US might have on supporting free speech. It would allow those with political clout and big bucks to exercise overwhelming and over-reaching power to defend whatever they consider to be their commercial interests. And, most crucially, it would become a mechanism to implement censorship. Just consider how damaging and over-reaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has been.
So where did this really, really bad idea spring from? COICA is a bipartisan insanity sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Orrin Hatch, and while its cross-party support may seem odd, the answer to why representatives of to quote Lewis Black, "the party of bad ideas and the party of no ideas" should collaborate is obvious: Money. How do we know this? Just consider which organisations are pushing hard to get this bill passed: The Recording Industry Association of America and the US Chamber of Commerce.
Leahy's website includes a press release that argues: "This much needed bill will help law enforcement keep pace in shutting down websites that illegally sell copyrighted goods. That way we protect legitimate businesses from losing sales and consumers from being duped into purchasing counterfeit and unauthorised goods. By cracking down on online piracy of television shows and movies, we hope this bill will encourage copyright owners to develop innovative and competitive new choices for consumers to watch video over the Internet."
Leahy and Hatch originally tried to fast track this bill back in September, but cooler heads pointed out that it clearly violated due process and prohibitions against prior restraint ("prior restraint" being a US legal term" referring to government actions that prevent communications from reaching the public)"). This was merely a delay, and now with the mid-term elections you can expect this bill to resurface.
And if this cabal of pols and vested interests get their way and COICA passes, there's going to be a whole lot more websites missing from the Internet than just the one belonging to Prince. Worse still, his ostensibly ridiculous statement that the "Internet is completely over" will be more or less true.
Get ready to defend the 'Net from this craziness. If you don't get involved, you can kiss goodbye to free speech online.