OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

SOPA Mark-up Delayed as Support Continues to Crumble

December 16, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The fight to kill SOPA, which has been waged through exactly the kinds of online social networks that would be most at risk of being blacklisted under the bill, is itself a perfect example of why SOPA must be killed. Whereas traditional, corporate-owned media tends to be biased towards the preservation of social divisions that benefit those in power, online peer-to-peer networks have the ability to facilitate the kind of grassroots, cross-partisan coalitions that can make a difference on matters of fundamental rights like the freedom of speech online.

 

Read Full Article Comments (11)
 

During today's mark-up of the "Stop Online Piracy Act," a bill that would establish the first internet censorship system in the U.S., the House Judiciary Committee rejected a key amendment that would have removed provisions from the bill that call for entire sites to be blacklisted from the internet via DNS blocking, the same system used in the Great Firewall of China.

Read Full Article Comments (13)
 

SOPA Goes Through Staged Compromise, Still Censorship

December 14, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The notorious internet censorship bill known as SOPA is going to mark-up in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and ahead of the meeting the committee chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith [R, TX], has pulled a neat little trick. Smith has come out with a manager's amendment that eliminates the most insanely unconstitutional elements of the bill, leaving behind an expansive censorship system for the government and the entertainment industry that is meant to seem reasonable by contrast.

Read Full Article Comments (10)
 

Who Writes the Bills Anyways?

December 2, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Ahead of the December 15 Judiciary Committee markup, the corporate sponsors of the SOPA web censorship bill are making some last minute tweaks to the legislative language:

The Motion Picture Association of America is willing to change some of the language to tone-down the controversial, much-maligned Stop Online Piracy Act that it supports, according to a report in the New York Times late Wednesday.

MPAA exec Michael O'Leary said in an afternoon press call that the agency “will come forward with language that will address some of the legitimate concerns,” of those opposed to the bill, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Zynga and myriad other Web companies and advocacy groups.

Read Full Article Comments (19)
 

The bill to give corporations and the government new powers to block websites without having to seek court approval is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the next few days or weeks. The PROTECT-IP Act, which is companion legislation to the House's SOPA, has already been voted out favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee and can be called to the floor for a vote any day.

According to folks in D.C., Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is planning to promote it on the floor by giving it the bogus label of "jobs bill." We've already seen this strategy used succesfully by congressional leaders this year to pass big-business handouts (e.g. patent reform legislation and free trade deals) despite the fact that independent analysis shows that they will stifle small-business innovation and kill more jobs than they create. Let's stop them from doing it again with internet censorship. 

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Why SOPA and PROTECT-IP Are So Hard to Kill

November 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Last week an unprecedented coalition of tech companies, internet users, and public-interest groups came together to fight legislation that would give corporations and the government new powers to censor the internet. The numbers are impressive -- in just one day more than 1 million emails were sent to Congress and 88,000 phone calls were placed to representatives. But despite this viral, grassroots effort, the special interests behind the legislation are still winning. They have spent years working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to assemble an extensive, bipartisan network of powerful lawmakers, and they are perfectly positioned to see the bill passed and signed into law this session.

Read Full Article Comments (28)
 

Join the Public Mark-up of SOPA

November 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

As you have probably heard, Congress is working with Big Content companies and unions to quickly pass legislation that would give corporations and the government new powers to take down websites and censor the web. Public-interest groups have been trying to get a seat at the table to explain why the bill is maybe not such a great idea, but so far they've been shut out.

The bill is the Stop Online Piracy Act, and in response to the closed nature of how it's being pushed through Congress, we've been encouraging folks to join in an ongoing public mark-up of the legislation here on OpenCongress. Using our in-line bill text commenting functionality, OpenCongress users have submitted over 100 public comments to specific lines and paragraphs of the bill. People are flagging important sections of the text, helping each other digest the legalese, and collaboratively analyzing the implications of what is being proposed.

Read Full Article Comments (12)
 

Congress Wants to Censor the Internet. Tell Them No.

November 16, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The internet is the most important innovation for democracy of our time. With the internet citizens are empowered to be creators of information, not just passive consumers, and they're networked so exchange happens peer-to-peer, not through some central authority. These properties threaten the model of control that has long been pushed by authorities, be they corporate or governmental.

The fight over openness on the internet is a fundamental struggle about who has power in society. Today in the United States, the House of Representatives is taking a major step towards creating the first ever U.S. internet censorship system, using the same DNS technology that China uses for censorship. The bill is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and it would allow the government to demand ISPs and search engines to block websites and give private companies power to cut off access to sites without taking legal action. It's receiving a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today and is expected to get a vote in the full House soon.

Read Full Article Comments (21)
 

How SOPA Threatens Net Neutrality

November 15, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

In just a few days, the FCC's net neutrality rules are scheduled to go into effect, banning internet service providers from discriminating against web services base on content. If, as expected, Congress passes the Stop Online Piracy Act (a.k.a. #SOPA), the rules will soon have a giant loophole drilled into them.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that would create the first ever mass internet censorship system in the U.S., all in the name of protecting Hollywood from filesharing. The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, as well as the backing of the powerful music and movie industries, so it's expected to pass if it gets a vote. There was some hope, however, that Wednesday's hearing would be an opportunity for Congress to hear from some of the industries and interests that don't think the bill is such a hot idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's going to be the case.

Read Full Article Comments (14)
 

Shutting Down Sites With #SOPA

November 8, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

According to OpenCongress user adipesh, a little provision buried in Title I, Section 103 of the Stop Online Piracy Act, wit the innocuous-sounding title, "Relief," gives the entertainment industry a tool to shut down websites without having to prove their case in court.

Read Full Article Comments (7)
 

Should Congress Be Afraid of Online Piracy?

November 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

One of the only things Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to agree on these days is passing legislation aimed at stopping copyright infringement on the internet. For years, members of Congress from across the political spectrum with financial backing from copyright industries have been pushing for new powers for the government and copyright owners to restrict channels for sharing content online. Just last week a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, that would criminalize a lot of really standard YouTube behavior and allow copyright holders to block access to websites without a court order. By all accounts, the bill is going to be fast-tracked through Congress in the coming weeks. But is copyright infringement on the internet even a real problem?

Read Full Article Comments (7)