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The US Congress, PROTECT IP, SOPA, E-PARASITES... and the War For the Open Internet

US Capital
If you are a U.S. citizen and have NOT been paying attention to the madness going on in the US Congress right now with regard to the Internet, you really NEED to take a look...

If you have a website, you need to be paying attention...

If you own a domain name, you need to be paying attention...

Backed by the traditional media industries (and all their lobbying $$$) the U.S. Senate and House are considering legislation that would seriously break the Internet as we know it. Rather than the DMCA "takedown notices" that have been used to date, these new bills would require ISPs to disable access to websites.

Basically it would give corporations the ability to manipulate (through ISPs) the DNS system to block access to content that they feel is objectionable or violates their copyrights, etc.

I think we all can generally agree that stopping online piracy and illegal activities is a good goal. As well as being a consumer of online content, I am also a creator of online content, and sure, I don't want my content pirated and mis-used by others...

but a "simple" technical solution is NOT the answer!

On a purely technical point-of-view, the Internet Society has issued a DNS Filtering White Paper on why this type of filtering is not a solution to combating illegal activities... and the danger such filtering has to the fabric of the Internet and to users themselves.

In the US Senate, the bill is S.968, the "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP)" Act (also known as "PIPA") while over in the house it was first known as the "E-PARASITE bill (the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act)" and now has been introduced as H.3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)".

There has been a great amount of online content generated around this issue. Some of the articles I found useful include:

PopVox has an interesting comparison of the organizations supporting and opposing S.968 and HR.3261. Look at the "Organizations Supporting" and "Organizations Opposing" tabs, although I believe there are more opposing orgs than simply those listed... still, it gives a view of the players involved.

The battle is going on right now with one of the latest updates being that tech industry reps were denied a seat at next week's House hearings and that now the 4 presenters to the committee will all be pro-SOPA entities.

Please... take a moment to read these links above... read even more... educate yourself on what the issues are - and let your opinion be known to your representatives in the U.S. House and Senate. Please spread the word online, too, as we who are users of the Internet need to let our voices be heard...

Image credit: jasonippolito on Flickr

UPDATE #1: Alex Howard has a great collection of SOPA/PIPA-related links, including a video of Senator Ron Wyden (the senator currently putting a "hold" on the PROTECT IP bill in the Senate).

UPDATE #2: While I began this post "If you are a U.S. citizen", Neville Hobson correctly pointed out that those outside the U.S. need to be concerned, too, as this type of government intervention in the Internet by the US government, if successful, will certainly spread to other governments. Plus, any issues affecting DNS will naturally have impacts outside the USA.

Please note that this blog post represents my personal opinion and has no connection whatsoever to any employers or other organizations, either past or present.

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either: