January 22, 2012
Source: Here’s some from Yahoo!
In case you missed it, a good part of the Internet went “dark” on 18-Jan-2012 to protest two bills now being considered in US Congress. They are H.R.3261 (aka “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA) and S.968 (aka “Protect Intellectual Property Act,” or “Protect IP” or PIPA).
These two bills, IF passed and signed into law, are supposed to end… or at least curtail… Internet “piracy.” But, there are major problems with both bills. Problems that can not only hurt legitimate sites and users, but can be exploited and abused to no end. The EFF has a one-page list of problems (PDF).
Cowboy politics. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) is the mastermind behind SOPA, introducing it back in October. It seems, however, that he has been grazing on some “greener” pastures:
(CNET) - As CNET reported in December, Smith, a self-described former ranch manager whose congressional district encompasses the cropland and grazing land stretching between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, has become Hollywood’s favorite Republican. The TV, movie, and music industries are the top donors to his 2012 campaign committee, and he’s been feted by music and movie industry lobbyists at dinners and concerts.
Back-pocket puppet of the MPAA/RIAA cartel, in other words, representing farmers, not tech industries. Little wonder why many believe that SOPA is just bad and wrong, and it would do more harm than good.
What harm could it do? SOPA is worded to make “offending” sites vanish from the Net completely. At least that’s how CNET describes SOPA section 102:
A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order…Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within five days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
There’s also a problem of scope: PIPA primarily targets the offender’s DNS providers and finances. SOPA is reportedly broader, going after their ISPs and even requiring them to monitor traffic including using deep packet inspection. Reddit goes into gory detail about what they would need to do if they receive a SOPA notice:
(Reddit SOPA FAQ) - If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments. This places a measurable burden upon the site’s technical infrastructure. It also damages one of the most important tenets of reddit, and the internet as a whole – free and open discussion about whatever the fuck you want.
This may be why the likes of Google, Wikipedia, WordPress, and others don’t like what SOPA represents. Even now, some companies that originally backed SOPA are now having second thoughts.
“Verizon continues to look at SOPA, and while it’s fair to say that we have concerns about the legislation, we are working with congressional staff to address those concerns,” a representative told us.
Tim McKone, AT&T’s executive vice president of federal relations, said that “we have been supportive of the general framework” of the Senate bill. But when it comes to SOPA, all AT&T would say is that it is “working constructively with Chairman Smith and others toward a similar end in the House.”
Collateral damage. Not all sites went dark to protect freedom of speech; File-sharing website Megaupload was taken offline (or is at least very slow to respond) as seven people associated with it, including the founder, were arrested for copyright infringement.
(Technorati) Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, is the site’s founder and was arrested in New Zealand, according to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Of the six others indicted, three have been arrested. Officially, the seven people were indicted with five counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy, according to authorities. The nearly two-year investigation was unsealed Thursday (19-Jan-2012) and it revealed that the grand jury in Virginia made its decision almost two weeks ago.
The timing of the arrests, done the day after the blackout, is not only suspicious, but also has made life inconvenient for those who had legitimate use of Megaupload:
(TorrentFreak)The feds shut down MegaUpload a few hours ago.
Eight people we charged with criminal copyright infringement charges, and all files hosted on the site were pulled offline.
However, do the feds realize that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people used the site to share research data, work documents, personal video collections and much more?
What will happen to these personal non-infringing files?
People are outraged on Twitter and are demanding access to their files immediately.
The Twitter posts show the virtual FFFFFUUUUU…-fest of people who lost work due to the shutdown. Anonymous managed to exact a measure of revenge by giving the FBI a DDoS attack. They were joined by 9000 hackers in the attack.
Knowing is half the battle. With all the protests and counter-attacks surrounding SOPA/PIPA and the Megaupload shutdown, Congress finally came to its senses and have “shelved” the two bills… for now.
(AFP via Yahoo)Senate majority leader Harry Reid said he was delaying next week’s vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith said he would “revisit” the House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act,” Reid announced in a statement two days after a wave of online protests against the bill swept the Internet.
It appears that freedom of speech has won out, but the victory is only temporary. More likely, there may be some tweaking of the bills to make them more palatable (or at least, more confusing) then reintroduced when everyone has forgotten what the bills were about so there would be less opposition to them. This way, there would be less shit hitting the fans.
Stay tuned… this is far from over.