The Internet Blacklist Legislation – known as PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House – is a threatening sequel to last year’s COICA Internet censorship bill. Like its predecessor, this legislation invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers Internet innovation. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!
The PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is the evil step-sister of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the much-criticized Internet blacklist bill introduced in the House last month. They’ve got a lot in common — both bills would allow the government and private rightsholders to censor the Internet for Americans, and both bills have faced strong opposition from regular citizens, business leaders, and public interest groups.
In one way, though, PIPA is much worse: while SOPA is still in the House committee stage and has been the target of extraordinary public opposition, PIPA is already out of committee and poised for consideration of the full Senate. That means PIPA is a few dangerous steps further along in the process of becoming law. And with only a few weeks to go in this legislative session, the Senate may try to rush the bill through before the public has a chance to respond.
Big media and its allies in Congress are billing the Internet Blacklist Legislation as a new way to prevent online infringement. But innovation and free speech advocates know that this initiative is nothing more than a dangerous wish list that will compromise Internet security while doing little or nothing to encourage creative expression.
As drafted, the legislation would grant the government and private parties unprecedented power to interfere with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). The government would be able to force ISPs and search engines to redirect or dump users’ attempts to reach certain websites’ URLs. In response, third parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet (not just the newly censored U.S. version), which will create new computer security vulnerabilities as the reliability and universality of the DNS evaporates.
It gets worse: Under SOPA’s provisions, service providers (including hosting services) would be under new pressure to monitor and police their users’ activities. While PROTECT-IP targeted sites “dedicated to infringing activities,” SOPA targets websites that simply don’t do enough to track and police infringement (and it is not at all clear what would be enough). And it creates new powers to shut down folks who provide tools to help users get access to the Internet the rest of the world sees (not just the “U.S. authorized version”).
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has placed a hold on the Senate version of the bill, taking a principled stand against a very dangerous bill. But every Senator and Representative should be opposing the PROTECT IP Act and SOPA. Contact your members of Congress today to speak out!