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Help Us Whip #PIPA

January 13, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Ahead of the January 24th vote on the PROTECT-IP Act (a.k.a. PIPA) we’re organizing a distributed public whip-count campaign to find out where each member of the U.S. Senate stands on the bill. This bill would establish the first ever internet censorship system in the United States, and our right to free speech depends on it being killed. It’s being rushed to a vote on the first day back from January recess even though the only debate it’s had so far was at an 8-minute mark-up session in the Judiciary Committee – where no objections were heard and no tech experts had a chance to register their protest.

1. Call Congress — Use the tool below to find your senators’ phone numbers. When calling their D.C. office, first identify yourself as a constituent, give your name and mailing address for verification, and say you have an issue to raise and that you would like a response from your Sen. Then ask to speak to the legislative aid who handles technology issues. If he or she is unavailable (as is likely), leave a message that you oppose H.R.3261, SOPA, the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act, and that you urge your Sen. to vote No.

2. Report back — Update the call log telling us how the call went and any info you got about where your senators stands on the bill. 

3. We’ll update our public whip sheet — Your work will help us (i.e. PPF), our partners in the American Censorship Day coalition, and activists across the country target actions at key senators so we can stop this bill from advancing any further. Click here to check out the whip sheet.

We’ll have more coming out on this whip campaign later today and this week, including talking points to use for your calls and a full table outlining every members’ position or lack of position on the bill. For now, we need to get this started. Please help.

Three key reasons to oppose PROTECT-IP

Violates freedom of speech — PROTECT-IP’s dragnet approach to dealing with bad actors online would shut down entire websites over a single copyright-infringing link. That means sites with tons of legitimate, constitutionally-protected speech could be blacklisted by corporations and the government if a single user posts a copyrighted link. It creates an ideal tool for governments and corporations to censor speech that they would prefer did not exist. Several top legal scholars have already declared the bill’s provisions to be in violation of the First Amendment.

Threatens job growth — As a nation we are increasingly banking on job growth to come from the technology and information sector. It’s an area where we’ve always been leaders, but POTECT-IP could change that by creating massive new uncertainty for almost all online sites. The new compliance requirements and liabilities that U.S. sites would face under this bill have already caused dozens of the largest American venture capitalist firms to warn that PROTECT-IP would slow start-up innovation.

Makes the web less secure — For more than a decade online security experts have been building a system to secure the web and prevent online identity theft known as DNSSEC. The system is just starting to be implemented, but under PROTECT-IP it would be made illegal. That’s because to work the system has to try to get around any DNS blockages it encounters, something that the PROTECT-IP Act would define as “enabling” and “facilitating” copyright infringement. Security experts have been trying to have their concerns heard before Congress, but so far they’ve been drowned out by the entertainment industry.

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