Jan 31 2012

ACTA, SOPA and PIPA: Threats to the Internet way

sxuvpudc thumb ACTA, SOPA and PIPA: Threats to the Internet wayOne of the beautiful things about the Internet is the ability to exchange information freely with many other people on the planet without fear of having that information silenced. when legislation was proposed for censoring the Internet with SOPA and PIPA, the Internet rose up in protest to say that giving power to censor the Internet was not what the public wants. Immediately after SOPA and PIPA were shelved, the next round of attempted Internet censorship turned the corner, it’s called ACTA—  it’s not a law; it’s a treaty.

It seems to me that the Internet itself is under fire. Individuals, corporations and entities who have failed business models, and can’t keep up with the trends in technology cry foul because technology is moving much faster than anything that they can implement to serve their customer base.

It’s not been enough to China has established their own firewall for blocking outside sources of information. It’s not enough that Iran is going to create their own internal domestic Internet, blocking out the rest of the world, and only living in information they deem relevant to their way of life. SOPA and PIPA was going to give corporations and other entities the power to shut down websites, fine users and imprison them for copyright violation [all without due process]. Now, we have ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement…

Unfortunately, the treaty [ACTA] has already been signed by the United States on October 1st 2011. ACTA gives copyright holders, by court warrant, to collect personal information about any person is suspected of infringing on copyright from that person’s Internet service provider. It also gives the copyright holder the ability to legally pursue anyone suspected of circumventing rights management technologies, and if there’s any imported goods coming into the country, they are subject to search and seizure if they are suspected of infringing on copyright.

These are serious repercussions and gives corporations/copyright holders an extreme amount of influence and power. This means that anyone who is a content provider can say that their information was stolen and that it needs to be taken down or they can pursue the individual or legal basis; links, videos, quotations…

I agree with being able to protect copyright and intellectual property, but there needs to be due process, there needs to be representation and there needs to be a clear understanding of how the Internet works before people go off the deep end creating laws or treaties, or legal agreements on how they think copyright infringement should be handled.

Poland is one of those countries who is protesting ACTA, and rightfully so. The acceptance of ACTA has gone greatly unnoticed. It seems like there’s an underground few that have been reporting on active for some time, but it wasn’t until ACTA and SOPA that censorship of the Internet has really gained attention of everyone; and everyone agrees with no censorship on the Internet.

Twitter is in the same category; somehow Twitter has come to the conclusion that they want to do a level of censorship. Twitter has been a powerful tool for social evolution in gaining a great amount of popularity towards an idea or movement. Recent revolutions in other countries, Twitter was one of the main roads of organizing protests. Twitter was reported as saying in part, ‘Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world’… that is a level of censorship. This is a country going to Twitter and complaining that they don’t like all information coming to that country and they want Twitter to produce an answer—  this is that answer; censorship.

The Internet was intended to be an open medium, open to everyone, to share information and to benefit from the information. Corporations, entities and countries who don’t like the idea of people being able to ‘learn’ new information and new ways of doing things will cry out for censorship over the Internet.

The protests for ACTA and SOPA and PIPA; these are perfect examples of people standing up and saying that censorship over the Internet is unacceptable— it should not be done in any way.

A lot of websites have pointed out that with the website of MegaUpload being shut down, why does there need to be a SOPA or PIPA in the first place? The seizure of MegaUpload shows that loss can be enforced arbitrarily to websites that are violating copyright. The problem with the issue with MegaUpload is that there are some users that are using that service legally. The users who are doing this legally are now paying the price for having a website shutdown without due process. Companies and individuals who are backing up their information to a cloud storage location, like MegaUpload, now find themselves in a precarious situation because all that information has been seized and will most likely be deleted.

As of this morning, there’s reports that a reprieve from deleting information has been pushed out for two weeks. This just goes to show the broad sweep of how Internet censorship can affect people who are using services legally. It would’ve made more sense, to arrest the individuals of MegaUpload, place a notice on the website that all of the computer hardware was being seized and that if you are using MegaUpload legally to store your information it should be removed immediately by a specific timeframe. This doesn’t mean that the individuals would be able to remove data; but simply get a copy of it before the website shutdown…

Any censorship, or potential censorship threatens the future of the Internet. History has shown that corporations, politicians and countries will go to extreme lengths to use treaties and laws, in their loosely worded agreements, to push the boundaries of what those agreements were supposed to do the first place.

And I think everyone is in agreement here, that has any support, should be strictly worded for specific occurrences and not broad working; and there should be due process.


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.

 ACTA, SOPA and PIPA: Threats to the Internet way
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