Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet; Senator Wyden Threatens Filibuster as Vote Nears
Published on: November 26, 2011
(Agoura Hills, CA) The United States Congress is considering America’s first system for censoring the Internet. Despite plenty of public outcry, both SOPA – (The Stop Online Piracy Act also known as H.R.3261) or Protect IP – (The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011; United States Senate Bill S.968) could pass at any time. If either of them do, it’s been said that the Internet and free speech could be changed forever.
According to AmericanCensorship.org, “If SOPA or Protect IP passes, the United States government can order internet providers to block any site for its users’ infringing posts, using the same DNS-blocking methods as China or Iran. Ordinary users risk going to jail as it becomes a felony with a potential five year sentence to stream copyrighted video works, even if you are an ordinary noncommercial user. For example, simply singing a pop song on Facebook could be a felony.”
Tech giant Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt along with other technology companies like AOL, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, and Yahoo have indicated serious concern and have lodged formal written complaints to key Senate and House lawmakers.
“The undersigned Internet and technology companies write to express our concern with legislative measures that have been introduced in the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives, S. 968 (the “PROTECT IP Act”) and H.R. 3261 (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”).
“We support the bills’ stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign “rogue” websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”
The letter goes on to state that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 would be undermined with this new legislation, something which has been the foundation of innovation and security for start-ups and online companies to date. These bills through this protection away, creating liabilities for online companies to police their users.
There’s a good chance that this legislation will pass – but Senator Ron Wyden is a steadfast opponent, and says he’ll try to block it by filibustering if it comes up for a vote.
“The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) would ruin so much of what’s best about the Internet: They will give the government and corporations new powers to block Americans’ access to sites that are accused of copyright infringement, force sites like YouTube to go to new lengths to police users’ contributions, and put people in prison for streaming certain content online” said Senator Ron Wyden, (D-OR).
“In December of last year I placed a hold on similar legislation, commonly called (the Combating Online Infringements Counterfeit Act),” Wyden said in a statement. “I felt the costs of the legislation far outweighed the benefits. After careful analysis of the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, I am compelled to draw the same conclusion. I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective.”
Few legislators have done more to promote and protect online speech, privacy rights and innovation than U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Wyden has recently been honored by Electronic Frontier Foundation for his efforts to block legislation deemed harmful to free speech and with proposing legislation to define when and how government and private parties can access location information in cellphones and other electronic devices.