- Candidate Obama promised to "(s)upport the principle
of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the
- As president, his FCC and congressional extremists threaten
it. On May 12, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D. MN) introduced "S. 978: A
bill to amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement
of a copyright, and for other purposes."
- Referred to the Judiciary Committee, June 22 hearings
were held. So far, no further action was taken. If enacted, loosely defined
unlicensed online streaming becomes illegal, punishable by up to five years
- On May 12, Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT) introduced "S.
968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of
Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP)." Referred to the Judiciary
Committee, May 26 hearings were held. So far, no further action was taken.
- Leahy calls it a measure to "protect the investment
American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will
protect the jobs associated with those investments."
- In fact, it introduces new censorship provisions that
violate First Amendment freedoms, without which all others are at risk.
- If enacted, Internet service providers (ISPs), search
engines, and other "information location tools" will have to
block user access to sites accused of very loosely defined copyright infringement.
- On February 6, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R. TX) introduced
"SJ Res. 6: A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by
the Federal Communications with respect to regulating the Internet and
broadband industry practices."
- The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science
and Transportation Committee. So far, no further action was taken.
- On January 5, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R. TN) introduced
a similar House measure:
- "HR 96: Internet Freedom Act: To prohibit the Federal
Communications Commission from further regulating the Internet."
- The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce
Committee and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. So far,
no further action was taken.
- Reportedly, Obama's also considering a so-called "three
strikes" censorship deal, requiring ISPs restrict bandwidth speed,
limit web access, and be educated about copyright infringement to prevent
- Candidate Obama made many promises. As president, he
broke all major ones that matter, including protecting a free and open
Internet. Instead, he made intellectual property protection a priority
over Internet freedom.
- On October 26, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
headlined, "Disastrous IP Legislation is Back - And It's Worse than
- On October 26, Rep. Lamar Smith (R. TX) introduced "HR
3261: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): To promote prosperity, creativity,
entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of US property,
and for other purposes"
- Referred to the House Judiciary Committee, no further
action so far was taken.
- In enacted, SOPA will "not only sabotage the domain
name system but would also threaten to effectively eliminate DMCA (Digital
Millennium Copyright Act) safe harbors" that spur economic growth
and online creativity.
- Along with Leahy's PROTECT-IP Act, SOPA will force ISPs
to "disappear certain websites, endangering Internet security."
- On the pretext of IP enforcement, entire domains may
be blacklisted. As a result, thousands will be jeopardized, even ones operating
- SOPA language claims no "restraint on free speech"
when, in fact, it lawlessly abandons constitutional protections.
- Worse still, "service providers (including hosting
services)" would be pressured to "monitor and police their users'
- Failure to comply "enough" could result in
blacklisting, "even without any kind of court hearing....The bill
also requires search engines, payment providers (including credit card
companies and PayPal), and advertising services" participate in shutting
- Instead of complying with constitutional law and DMCA
rules, copyright owners could use this law to shut down sites by cutting
off access to their domain names, their "search engine hits,"
their advertising, and their "other financing even if safe harbor"
- New streaming provisions would cause further damage.
- EFF calls SOPA "the worst piece of IP legislation
we've seen in the last decade - and that's saying something," given
how much has been introduced.
- Bush administration extremists waged war on Internet
freedom. Much more happened under his successor pledging to protect it.
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D. CA) expressed alarm, saying "I'm
still reviewing (SOPA), but from what I've already read, this would mean
the end of the Internet as we know it" if enacted.
- Leahy's PROTECT-IP is a companion bill. An earlier version
was introduced in the Senate last year. At the time, Lofgren said:
- "I'm particularly concerned that it could set a
precedent for further control and censorship of the Internet by foreign
governments, and risk the fragmentation of the global domain name system.
Many prominent human rights activists and Internet engineers have voiced
these concerns, and they deserve serious consideration."
- Influential high-tech companies like Google and Yahoo
strongly oppose SOPA. Some critics call it the E-Parasite Act. House leaders
promised to correct PROTECT-IP flaws. SOPA's are worse by creating ill-defined
sweeping new liability standards designed to censor.
- If enacted, media companies will have unprecedented new
powers. Internet freedom will be jeopardized. So will a free and open society.
- Its provisions will empower the Attorney General to cut
off access and funding for alleged "parasite" foreign sites.
Domestic ones are also affected.
- An Internet czar would decide if US interests are harmed.
Once judgments are made, copyright/trademark rules apply. Court orders
would force providers and others to block "parasite" sites.
- Broadly defined search engines, payment processors and
advertisers would be forced to cut ties with them. Non-offenders will face
enormous challenges to reverse actions taken. Prosecutors need only claim
that the value of content allegedly affected exceeds $1,000.
- Avoiding felony convictions would require defendants
to prove they committed no violations. A high bar would impede success.
- Unlike under DMCA rules, SOPA provides minimal redress
for erroneously targeting web sites committing no infractions. Penalties
would only apply if claimants "knowingly materially misrepresent."
Guilt is defined as being "dedicated to theft of US property."
- EFF believes SOPA is so deeply flawed it can't be fixed.
Killing it is the only option.
- On October 27, the Center for Democracy & Technology
(CDT) called "(d)omain-name filtering....a blunt instrument."
PROTECT-IP "raise(s) serious problems." SOPA is worse.
- "Gone is any serious effort to narrowly target clear
'bad actors' " in very destructive legislation. The bill imposes "sweeping
new risks and responsibilities on websites offering legitimate online services...."
- It also lets a "new club" challenge alleged
copyright infringers. The bill "mark(s) a radical departure from core
legal principles embedded in (DMCA rules and) secondary liability jurisprudence.
Abandoning those principles would pose major risks for online innovation,
free expression, and the open nature of the Internet."
- SOPA damages "the entire Internet ecosystem."
Copyright infringement concerns are legitimate. Congress, however, needs
entirely new provisions to "avoid throwing out the baby with the bath
- Net Neutrality is the last frontier of press freedom.
SOPA, PROTECT-IP, others discussed above, and earlier ones introduced but
not passed want to destroy it.
- Post-9/11, police state and other destructive laws put
America on a fast track toward tyranny. Compromising Internet freedom accelerates
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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