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September 29, 2010

Censorship - You are Fuggin Suggin!

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."  ~Potter Stewart

Uncle Sam is at it again.  That bastard has to have his hands in anything and everything, including our beloved Internet.  The “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), the bill known as S. 3804, is expected to be fast tracked straight through a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee which is expected to pass the bill as early as this week.  The new legislation is aimed at copyright infringement and file sharing-related issues (see Bittorrent and sites like the Pirate Bay), but it could also be quickly abused to limit free speech.  This bill has surely been pushed by lobbyists for Hollywood and the music industry, as these file sharing sites are costing those industries billions in annual revenues.   

The most alarming part of the bill is the fact that it would give the U.S. Attorney General the authority to create a blacklist of websites that Internet service providers in the United States would be forced to block. This would essentially censor the internet for every user in the United States, which would be a terrible tragedy and give far too much power to the government to control what information is shared online - a very slippery slope

This bill is another example of this administrations battle against the freedom and openness of the Internet.  Last year, bill S.773 was presented which would permit the President to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.  Another bill, The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, would hand absolute power to the federal government to close down networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries under a declared national emergency.  It would also give the President the emergency power to "kill switch" and shut down the Internet for up to four months.  Furthermore,  President Barack Obama’s administration came forward recently expressing their intent to create new legislation that will give federal authorities easier access to information shared online, after they secure a warrant of course.

So many of you may be asking, "Where is the public outcry?"  I do not know, but it is surely time that people speak out and express their desire to keep the Internet safe from government control and censorship.  The passage of the COICA (and all the other Internet control measures proposed by this administration) would be a dreadful strike to free speech on the Internet and likely a first step towards much broader (and possibly limitless) online censorship. Please voice your opinion by signing the petition to stop the COICA.  Censorship fuggin suggs.   

"We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still."  ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty