Corporate Takeover of the Internet

I came across this on Mish Shedlock´s blod.  We should all be concerned about.  Just another example of corporations taking over the internet.

Loss of Free Speech

A bill in Congress with an innocuous title – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – threatens to do much more.

An extremely technical, low-profile bill that isn’t being covered by cable news, but has nearly 1,000 registered lobbyists officially working on it: the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA — a bill with the power to fundamentally reshape the laws governing the Internet.

SOPA would imbue the federal government with broad powers to shut down whole web domains on the basis that it believes them to be associated with piracy — without a trial or even a traditional hearing. It would provide Hollywood with powerful new legal tools to stifle transactions with websites whose existence worries the movie industry.

The bill’s supporters, which also include major record labels, trial lawyers and pharmaceutical giants, call SOPA a robust effort to curb piracy of American goods online.

Opponents, however, have castigated it as an unparalleled attack on free speech online. Civil liberties advocates say SOPA would give the U.S. government the same censorship tools used in China. Those in the technology sector warn that the bill creates enormous new barriers to entry for web startups, threatening innovation and job creation. Farther afield, librarians say that under the letter of the proposed anti-piracy law, they could be jailed for simply doing their jobs.

Leahy’s bill would also empower corporations to demand that payment processors, advertisers and search engines stop doing business with sites the companies believe to be dedicated to infringement. A Hollywood studio could claim a website is “dedicated to infringement,” and tell Google to stop registering the website in its search results. If Google protested, the company could haul Google into court.

This new set of corporate liabilities — known as a “private right of action” — prompted resistance from Wall Street. Both JPMorgan Chase, which operates a major global payment processing business, and the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group representing the nation’s biggest banks, began pressing Congress to reject the bill, arguing that it was unfair to hold banks accountable for the sins of others. Banks and payment processors didn’t want to have Hollywood telling them who to do business with.

The government’s ability to shut down sites would involve federal tampering with the domestic Domain Name System — a basic Internet building block that links numerical addresses where Internet data is stored to alphabetical URL addresses that people actually type into web browsers. The Chinese government censors the Internet for its citizens by engaging in DNS blocking, restricting access to certain domains.

Tech experts warn that giving the U.S. government such powers could hinder the functionality of many web applications, severing the connection between domain URLs and numerical data addresses that many programs rely on. It would also hamper efforts to introduce a new security system known as DNSSEC, which national security programmers have been developing for years.

“The Act would allow the government to break the Internet addressing system,” wrote 108 law professors in a July letter to Congress. “The Internet’s Domain Name System (“DNS”) is a foundational building block upon which the Internet has been built and on which its continued functioning critically depends. The Act will have potentially catastrophic consequences for the stability and security of the DNS.”

Leahy’s bill has whipped Internet advocacy groups into a frenzy. Dozens of nonprofits, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Center for Democracy and Technology, issued strong statements condemning the bill. Fifty venture capitalists sent a letter to the Hill warning lawmakers that Leahy’s bill could cripple tech startups with absurd legal fees prompted by Hollywood. …

Americans pay higher prescription drug prices than the citizens of any other nation, a product of strict intellectual property rules for prescription drugs. So many among the elderly and the uninsured import the same drugs at lower prices from Canada to avoid the sticker shock, a strategy advocated by both Consumer Reports
and AARP.

Though buying prescription drugs from Canada is technically illegal, the Food and Drug Administration has informally tolerated the purchases for years, provided the medicine is approved by prescription and is only for personal use.

SOPA includes a host of provisions designed to crack down on counterfeit medicine that are written broadly enough to encumber the importation of safe medicine from legitimate Canadian pharmacies. Provisions that bar the importation of “mislabeled” drugs would block a great deal of unsafe pills from making their way to the U.S., but they would also block all Canadian prescription drugs, because Canada’s drug warnings don’t exactly match FDA warnings.

“Our primary concerns are with the fact that non-infringing content is going to be taken down in the process of taking down infringing content,” says Michael MacLeod-Ball, First Amendment counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The way the bill is set up, if a site has infringing content on it … their default reaction is going to be to take down the whole site.”

While a judge has to review the Attorney General’s request to take down a site, nobody from the site being targeted must be given a chance to defend themselves before the judge grants the AG’s request. The AG doesn’t ask a judge for a search warrant under SOPA, it requests to take down an entire website without a trial — or even a hearing.

Under current law, any U.S. website posting infringing content has to take the song or movie down at the request of whatever company owns the copyright. But under SOPA, companies could go directly to web hosting companies and require them to take down the entire website — not just individual songs and videos.

As a result, SOPA creates a new opening for corporate command of the Internet. Under SOPA, web hosting companies that take down legitimate websites at the behest of copyright holders would be granted blanket immunity from any liability for losses caused to those legitimate sites.

“Congress is on the verge of wrecking the greatest engine of innovation and greatest platform for democracy ever known to human kind,” says David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “And for what? For the sake of propping up an ossified industry that refuses to change with the times, but happens to make a lot of campaign contributions.”

My site, ZeroHedge, Calculated Risk can all be shut down if a newspaper or other cite thinks we went beyond fair use in quoting an article. Drug imports from Canada (something that ought to be legal), will be shut down as well.

This bill’s real intent is not to stop piracy, but rather to hand over control of the internet to corporations.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

The comments are also very illuminating.

Looks like more corporatism to me, the American version of fascism. Ron Paul would not allow it….more
The problem that we have is that ‘our’ Capitol Hill Gang gets its financial support from the powerful K Street Lobbyists who keep their feeding troughs filled with green backs.And the powerful K Street Lobbyists are funded by Big Money and Big Business and Big Banks.Corporations have probably already figured out that when you compare the costs of doing business in a ‘Democracy’ vs. the costs of doing business in a Dictatorship — funded by Big Business and Big Money and Big Banks — that it’s more Cost Efficient for Big Business and BIg Money and Big Banks to be calling the shots, to be stipulating the Rules and Regulations of daily commerce and political life.

In that sense, the People’s Republic of China is probably the business model that appeals to American Big Business and BIg Money — though they would be the first to deny that — since that would be ‘unAmerican’.

And in place of the Chinese Communist Party, we would have the ONE% — which essentially already calls the shots….more

I follow your postings here and once again you are spot on. Couple SOPA with The Patriot’s Act, the Military Commissions Act with another likely to become law, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and we have some really scary stuff. There is virtually no public discourse or corporate media talking about NDAA……
America had better wake up….it may be too late already………
“America had better wake up….it may be too late already…”Considering what the Republican Candidates are talking about and not talking about in their debates, the evidence is in that it is too late. Only the OCCUPY movement is touching on this….more

Actually, TEA activists are covering this in detail.
Example: instapundit links to this article. But he brings up the issue daily, on average.…
“Watching the House debate this bill yesterday was beyond pathetic. These representatives, if they deserve to be called that, have no idea the amount of power they’re giving the entertainment industry. Or maybe they do, as most of their pockets are lined with donations from media behemoths, and have been for years in the hopes that someday, they might pass a law like this.”

The push for SOPA is no way to stop piracy. Any Internet dummy knows that most piracy happens on P2P networks. There is no way to stop that unless you shut down the whole Internet. All clients support obfuscated connections so fighting it is useless. I think that the aim of SOPA is to give the government the power to shut down any website with an excuse. For example, people are organising an anti government rally on Facebook, the government makes up a claim that Facebook is used for piracy and shuts it down. Once the rage dissipated they fire some low level offical and promise it will never happen again.Expect P2P to take a much larger role in the Internet….more


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