US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

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US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Foghawk » 27 Nov 2011 05:27 am

This week on Things That Are Terrible:

Ten days ago, American Congressional hearings on a pair of bills called PIPA (the Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (the House's Stop Online Piracy Act) began. The bills would allow copyright holders to force search engines, payment processors (Paypal/credit cards) and ad services to instantly withdraw support for vaguely-defined "rogue" websites, without evidence, crippling them financially and forcing them to shut down. This applies to user-posted content, too: if even one person posts supposedly copyright-infringing material, the entire site could be cut off. It'd force essentially every site with social-media aspects or user-generated content (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, blogging and file hosting services, Subeta... I guess Neo is already censored to death) to strictly self-censor users' postings. Not only would the bill ruin major websites, but the House version at least would provide for heavy fines and years of jail time for harmless, non-commercial use of popular material, and both would choke future growth in the tech sector. The Chinese Politburo would be embarrassed.

On 16 Nov, a massive drive of petitions and emails to representatives actually got through to Congress, but for reasons relating to the arcane and somewhat disengaged relations between the media, the government, and the rest of the world, most of the bad press ended up hitting the slightly-more-restrictive House version, and those Powers That Be which would prefer to see it go through (the major players in the entertainment and anti-piracy industries) are now pushing the Senate version of the bill, spinning it as a "jobs" effort. (Needless to say, the losses involved in the shutdown of big names in the internet business—and the startups that might have become those big names—would more than outweigh whatever jobs would be created in the effort to maintain the censorship.) The Senate bill has a longer history and a stronger core of support; 40 senators have already backed the legislation, and there's reason to believe that the leadership may call for a vote as early as this week. Fight for the Future is organizing a call-in on Tuesday 29 November. They are hoping to do for the Senate what has been done for the House, and keep the internet, and all the areas of economy and society which use the internet, profitable, competitive, and most importantly, free.

If you are a constituent, please call your senator on Tuesday, either directly at their office or through the Capitol switchboard ((202) 224-3121). Whether they support the bill or oppose it, offer your concerns or affirmation as you see fit. Ask amenable friends and acquaintances to do the same. Make sure US representatives know the standpoint of the people they serve.

If worst comes to worst, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has promised to filibuster the bill by reading from the list of names on this petition. If you can't or won't call in, or don't live in the US, consider adding yours. Thanks, guys.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Cranberry » 27 Nov 2011 06:23 am

Hm, this is definitely something to worry about. I had seen people on forums and Tumblr claiming that President Obama said he'd veto this, but I think they were mistaken (that was a separate thing related to Net Neutrality; I haven't seen any comments from him re: this one). I don't have a senator to call here or anything (live in Canada), but I signed the petition.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Foghawk » 30 Nov 2011 01:13 am

Called my senators today. Result: phone robots. Anyway, americancensorship.org has put up a form that'll automatically connect you, if you haven't called and want to but are as effort-shy as I. Such nice people.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by thelonetiel » 18 Jan 2012 07:30 pm

This is what happens when you make the internet mad.

Today, Wikipedia, Reddit,Cheezburger sites and many more (this isn't even the largest list I've seen) are dark. Google has a petition in addition to their standard changed up logo.


If you're in the States, when you come across one of these sites, sign the petition, call your congressional representatives.

If you aren't in the States... Sorry that we have public officials who write ambiguous and poorly worded legal documents that make people this angry?

Viacom, Neopets' parent company, is supposedly a supporter of SOPA (and from what I know of them, I'm not surprised). So consider resisting the urge to spend all the time you'd be doing on these others sites on Neopets instead, and pretend like it was blacked out to, in protest. I'm going to attempt it (though we'll see how far that gets).

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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by AngharadTy » 18 Jan 2012 08:01 pm

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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Kantark » 19 Jan 2012 12:32 am

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Down with this sort of thing ;-)

So - if I understand this correctly - under SOPA/PIPA the simple act of me posting that image in this thread would mean the whole Neocolours site (and Photobucket for that matter) potentially being blocked, at least for you guys in the States.

When asked to enact something similar by the music industry, ISPs in the UK stated in no uncertain terms that it was technically impractical and suggested the record industry found a more agreeable way of protecting their revenue stream. I'd hazard a guess that, even in the unlikely event this were to pass into law, it would not be implemented well or would be so easy to circumvent as to be ineffective.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Miguel » 04 Mar 2012 07:13 pm

Gee thanks Kantark :P

I think the key point as far as I am concerned regarding the whole SOPA/PIPA/International alternatives is that it's a totally closed process with no notice or appeal. I think the industries have massively misunderstood and underestimated the impact of the internet on their business model; that shouldn't be our problem but that's a separate rant.

I think people would just wake up one day to a megaupload-style "THIS SITE HAS BEEN SIEZED" notice instead of the friendly Neocolours logo. And we'd have no way of getting that reversed.

I'd probably also face extradition to the US and charges against me for "allowing" you to post that, Kantark, which is somewhat terrifying. Administrating a website in a post-SOPA era would pretty much require legal counsel on speed dial, which puts small community websites into an untenable position.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Marah » 04 Mar 2012 07:28 pm

Ah so the fact that this website is hosted in Brittain, under a different law doesn't make a difference at all? Companies in the US would try to impose their laws on websites and people from outside the US, who haven't even been near the US and who do nothing wrong according to the laws of their country?

That is just.... I have no words for that.

In theory could a site be closed of for US users if that happened? I mean, it happens a lot the other way around, there is a lot of content I'm not allowed to see because people from "the UK and Europe" aren't allowed access. (Because the UK is a continent on its own these days, you know... :) )

(Also the BBC site does it with the Dr Who teasers and such. I can watch the BBC on my tv, legal and together with all the British people...! But I can't access half of the content on the site... I just don't get that.)
The internet is the one thing that could possibly be truly without boundaries, I have little to no patience for these people who try to create huge walls on it just because they aren't smart or fast enough to adapt and keep up with a changing world.

Disclaimer: I no way do I favour the closing of NC for US-ians. I love you all very much and it would get very boring here. It was just a theoretical question.

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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Foghawk » 10 Mar 2012 12:52 am

Marah wrote:Ah so the fact that this website is hosted in Brittain, under a different law doesn't make a difference at all? Companies in the US would try to impose their laws on websites and people from outside the US, who haven't even been near the US and who do nothing wrong according to the laws of their country?
Well... yes.

The company that manages the .com top-level domain, VeriSign, is US-based, and has had a contract with the US government to administer .com (and a number of other top-level names) for decades. The government claims that since VeriSign is based on US soil, it has the right to serve court-ordered seizures on sites in any domain the company administers (and the same with other US-based top-level domain managers, such as the Public Interest Registry, which does .org). So, yeah, the US government has been shutting down domain names with foreign registrars for years. It's up to about 750 by now—most of those are sites selling counterfeit goods, but recently they caught some flak for shuttering a Canadian sports betting website (even though, as I am given to understand, sports betting is perfectly legal there).

Of course, this wouldn't apply to NC, hosted as it is on a .uk, but the precedent isn't a pretty one.
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Re: US Internet Censorship (warning: activism)

Post by Marah » 10 Mar 2012 01:43 am

Interesting. So moving a site to .uk or .eu would place it outside those laws? (That is untill the other countries get pressured into whatever by the American government. Sometimes I wish my government would be less poodle-like when it comes to those things.)

And what would happen if you linked a .com site to refer to a .eu site. So the actual site would be hosted on .eu but would also own the .com link. Because as long as there are loopholes, I'm guessing the demand for .com and .org extensions will simply lessen.

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