A bill pending before Congress may make it illegal for websites to link to content the government says is illegal. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) seeks to protect U.S. businesses from (mostly Chinese) copyright infringement by criminalizing forms of online piracy — but the strictures are so severe some say they amount to an “internet kill switch.”
Ironically, China’s bid to smother the internet is being held up as a model for America’s future. Former Senator Chris Dodd, formerly mired in the housing scandal and who now heads the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA),said, “When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.” That’s not a big concern, unless one of the President Obama’s closest advisers is publicly stating China is a superior model to the United States.
Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government sketched out the bill’s Orwellian overtones in The Hill:
Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.
Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.
Additionally, SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.
Wikipedia may shut down for a day in protest.
Surely Barack Obama would like nothing more than to take down his chief source of grief. And if that can’t motivate you, KOMO News warns the bill could mean the end of the funny cats at “I Can Haz Cheez Burger.”
The increasingly lethargic American public cannot stand up to elected officials to save the Constitution, but they may do it for the cats.