U.S. Denounces Internet Censorship Worldwide While Pushing For More Censorship At Home

Portions of this article were sourced from psfk.com

Lawmakers have been trying for years to thwart online piracy. Then in 2010, COICA, or S.3804 Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, was born. COICA met with a load of resistance because it allows for the US Department of Justice to shut down sites that are even thought to be providing access to copy-written materials, without due process of law. COICA essentially trampled all over the First and Fourth Amendment. As a result, action was taken to stop it in its tracks…through petitions, activism, letters to members of Congress, and even many lawmakers themselves. The bill stalled late last year. A small victory for our Constitutional Rights…But only a temporary one.

Now, the birth of yet another horrible piece of legislation is in our midst. S.968 Protect IP Act of 2011. If COICA wasn’t bad enough, well, this one is even worse. Under the newly proposed bill, The Attorney General of The United States would have the power to force US-based third parties, including (but not limited to) Internet Service Providers, Payment Processors, Internet Advertising Network Suppliers and Search Engines to block access of the site in question or stop doing business with it altogether.

There are so-called “safeguards” built in to the bill that would allow domain name owners the ability to appeal to the court to have the ruling reversed, after the fact. I thought here in The USA, you were considered innocent until proven guilty. Such is not the case when it comes to this monstrosity.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT

Even worse still is the act also promotes self-filtering, and “actions taken against an Internet site where they have a good faith on credible evidence it is dedicated to infringing activities” are awarded with immunity from any damages that result. In other words, if action is taken against a site that falls into the above category, and they go out of business as a result, even if found not guilty, it’s just too bad for them, and no action can be taken against the accuser because they have immunity.

I would really like to know who wrote this crappy piece of legislation…oh, wait, that would be the Bill’s main sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy D-VT. How about that…he is also the one that sponsored COICA…shocker!

At the same exact time the Protect IP Act of 2011 was being proposed, The US has planned to invest $30M to fight online censorship by funding new technology aimed at breaking internet censorship in repressive regimes including China and Iran, officials have said.

What the Hell???

Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for human rights, said projects being funded by the US government included technology that acts as a “slingshot” – identifying censored material and throwing it back on to the web for users to find. The project is part of a m (£18m) state department project to encourage civil liberty online.

“We’re responding with new tools. This is a cat-and-mouse game. We’re trying to stay one step ahead of the cat,” Posner said. Censored information would be redirected to email, blogs and other online sources, he said. He would not identify the recipients of funding for “reasons of security”.

The comments are part of an overall US strategy to raise the importance of cyberspace in foreign affairs. The Pentagon is preparing to unveil an “international strategy for cyberspace” that will make online security an official domain of warfare like land, sea and air.

The comments came as the US ended two days of talks with Chinese officials amid worsening relations over censorship and crackdowns on dissidents. Posner said the US was using m to fund technology that would “be redirecting information back in that governments have initially blocked”.

Chinese authorities block sites including Twitter and Facebook and censor information online. In March, Google accused China of interfering with its email service. Authorities have been censoring references to pro-democracy uprisings in the Arab world and blocked search results for “Hillary Clinton” after she gave a speech championing internet freedom.

Posner said the US was using m to fund technology that would “be redirecting information back in that governments have initially blocked.”.

In Washington, critics have accused the state department of being slow to spend the money and kowtowing to China. Earlier this year senator Dick Lugar, a Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee, called for another government body to be put in charge of the funds.

Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder of GlobalVoicesOnline.org, a global organisation for bloggers, said access to information was not the only issue people faced online. In Egypt, for example, censorship had not been a problem but, surveillance had been a far bigger issue, she said – when the revolution began, the authorities closed down the internet. MacKinnon said technology to help people avoid government scrutiny online and allow them to set up local networks should a regime pull the plug on internet access was just as valuable.

In a recent interview with the Atlantic magazine, Clinton said China had a deplorable human rights record and was involved in a “fool’s errand” trying to hold off democratic changes like those sweeping the Middle East.

In her speech in February, the US secretary of state called the internet “the public space of the 21st century” and hailed the way it had been used to support uprisings in Egypt and protests in Iran. She pledged US support for freedom of expression and association online. “For the United States, the choice is clear. On the spectrum of internet freedom, we place ourselves on the side of openness,” she said. But she criticised WikiLeaks for publishing secret US cables, calling it “an act of theft”.

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Posted in Human Rights
12 comments on “U.S. Denounces Internet Censorship Worldwide While Pushing For More Censorship At Home
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  11. Speaking of Sen. Leahy, Some smart ass in his office would not relay a message to him for me and challenged me to “tell him yourself!” I found Senator Leahy in less than 30 minutes at his married daughters house! The Capitol police called me and did not know they were being recorded. If not for censorship I would be a celebrity!

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