SOPA Goes Through Staged Compromise, Still Censorship Reminscient of China, Iran, and Syria…And One of the Worst Anti-Internet Bills in History
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.
It’s a common trick among experienced legislators. Load your bill up with every crazy provision and hand-out its supporters could possibly dream of, and then take some of the extreme stuff out at some point in the legislative process to make it look like you’re being an honest broker. In this case, Smith is scaling back SOPA so that it looks more like the already-draconian Senate bill it was built off of, the PROTECT-IP Act. It changes a bill with a 1% favorability rating among OpenCongress users into a bill with a 2% favorability rating. Progress!
While the manager’s amendment makes the bill less extreme around the edges, it’s still a censorship bill, and it’s still the worst internet legislation in U.S. history. Here’s a look at some of the worst elements of it:
Allows the government and corporations to block access to full websites — The Attorney General or any U.S. copyright holder would be able to commence a takedown action against any website that they determine “has only limited purpose other than” facilitating copyright infringement. Under current law, copyright holders are only allowed to go after infringing content; SOPA would allow them to target entire sites. Given that the democratizing, peer-to-peer nature of Web 2.0 basically comes along with the ability for people to post infringing content, the government’s takedown power could have serious free speech implications. Judicial oversight of takedowns would be minimal, with the government and copyright holders being able to deny website owners from defending themselves if they state that they could not locate them through due diligence.
Creates legal uncertainties and liabilities that will stifle start-ups — The power for large corporations to shut down websites over a single link posted by a user would pose a serious threat to U.S. internet innovation. If SOPA’s powers existed in 2005, it’s hard to imagine that Big Content companies would have had trouble finding a judge willing to order the site to be taken offline. Current law requires website owners to simply comply with takedown requests for specific infringing content. SOPA would require them to police their entire sites for infringement or risk legal attacks and take-down actions by competing interests. The threat of litigation makes it almost not worth trying new stuff on the open web.
Criminalizes ordinary web behavior — Any person who posts a video online that contains copyrighted content and is determined to have willfully infringed the copyright in doing so would face felony charges, including up to 5 years in jail. All you need is at least 10 views and a court to determine the economic value of the streaming to be at least $1,000, and you may be headed to jail for dancing along to your favorite soon on YouTube.
Breaks the internet at the ISP level — The manager’s amendment no longer calls for Domain Name System blocking (the same system that is used to censor the web in China) by name, but it still encourages it. The language in the manager’s amendment would call on internet service providers to use “the least burdensome, technically feasible, and reasonable means designed to prevent access” to whatever websites the government tells them to. So, the ISPs get to pick their poison, but they are still required to block sites. In the words of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the bill would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet itself.”
Won’t stop piracy — Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about the bill is that none of this would actually stop piracy. People who are dedicated to accessing download sites can easily bypass the bill’s firewall by entering the IP address for the site into their browser.
This thing is up for vote in the House Judiciary Committee and is one step away after that from being voted on on the House floor
Everyone contact your district representatives!
I think the title of this article says it all.
Yesterday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) appeared at the First Baptist Church of West Monroe to sign HB 636, a measure that “requires women to be informed of their specific legal rights and options before they undergo an abortion procedure.” Abortion providers will now have to post signs around their facilities stating that “it is illegal to coerce a woman into getting an abortion, that the child’s father must provide child support, that certain agencies can assist them during and after the pregnancy and that adoptive parents can pay some of the medical costs.” The law also creates a Department of Health and Hospitals website and a mobile platform to deliver information “about public and private pregnancy resources” for avoiding abortions.
Jindal said he couldn’t understand why anyone would oppose the bill, comparing the new notices to Miranda warnings for women who receive abortions — a constitutionally protected procedure — to criminals:
“When officers arrest criminals today, they are read their rights,” he said. “Now if we’re giving criminals their basic rights and they have to be informed of those rights, it seems to me only common sense we would have to do the same thing for women before they make the choice about whether to get an abortion.”
The analogy, however, may be somewhat apt, since Louisiana already has some of the harshest anti-choice laws in the country. According to NARAL, the state still has an unconstitutional and unenforceable measure that prohibits abortion by anyone other than the woman unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Louisiana outlaws second-trimester abortion procedure with no exception to protect a woman’s health and in 2006 “enacted a near-total ban on abortion, to become effective if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.”
Under the state’s Right To Know law, abortion providers in Louisiana are already required to distribute pamphlets with information about pregnancy, termination, and alternatives. Women must also sign a statement that they have received the state information and are not being coerced into an abortion before undergoing the procedure.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling that female employees could not bring a class-action sex discrimination suit against Wal-mart, lawmakers are reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment. If the Amendment passes, the U.S. Constitution will explicitly ban gender discrimination.
Democrats Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) reintroduced the 88-year-old amendment at an event just outside the Capitol today.
In a press release, Maloney explained:The Equal Rights Amendment is still needed because the only way for women to achieve permanent equality in the U.S. is to write it into the constitution … Making women’s equality a constitutional right—after Congress passes and 38 states ratify the ERA—would place the United States on record, albeit more than 200 years late, that women are fully equal in the eyes of the law.
Her words were echoed by Menendez who called it a “disgrace that American women are still not constitutionally guaranteed equal rights under the law.”
First introduced in 1923, the ERA is considered one of the pioneer acts of the women’s rights movement in the United States, even though it was never ratified. Today, the ERA currently has 160 co-sponsors including Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, reports Ms. magazine. According to The Hill, it has been reintroduced every year since it fell three votes short of ratification in 1982.
“The Wal-Mart case decided by the Supreme Court this week is a classic example of how far attitudes must still come. The facts of the case support the view that over a million women were systematically denied equal pay by the world’s largest employer,” Maloney said in the release.
About fucking time. Let’s do this shit.
I hope this will get passed. I was just thinking about Alice Paul, who wrote the ERA today.
"South African rights groups have expressed shock at a decision to charge a 15-year-old alleged gang-rape victim with having underage sex.
The girl was charged with statutory rape along with her alleged rapists, who are aged 14 and 16.
The alleged rape happened earlier this month in a school east of Johannesburg in front of other pupils who filmed the incident on their phones.
Prosecutors said rape charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.
However, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it had decided all three could be charged under South Africa’s Sexual Offences Act, which outlaws consensual sex with a minor.
The Children’s Right Project, a legal advice group at the Western Cape University, said taking the matter to trial would not serve the girl’s interests.Continue reading the main story
Rape In South Africa
- South Africa has the highest incidence of rape amongst Interpol states
- 1 in 4 men admit to rape
- Nearly 150 women are raped every day
- More than 54,000 cases of rape were reported in 2006
Based on reports by the Medical Research Council, Interpol
"There are other ways to handle to matter, the prosecutors are sending a horrific and harmful message to other rape survivors. That causes great concern," the group’s Lorenzo Wakefield told BBC News.
Other groups have accused the NPA of failing the 15-year-old school girl, who was reported to have been drugged with a spiked drink before the alleged rape.
"We do feel that this is further brutalization," South Africa’s Eye Witness News quotes Lynne Cawood from Childline South Africa as saying.
"Secondly, traumatization of a child who is incredibly vulnerable," she said.
South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world.
One woman is raped every 17 seconds, child rights groups say.”
She gets raped, and then charged for underage sex. Qu’est-ce que fuck?
You’re in a changing room with your best man, ready to walk down the aisle. You and your girlfriend have been dating for three years now, engaged for five months— it’s finally time to become husband and wife! You’ve got the suit, she’s got the dress and her ring and bridesmaid— and today’s the day.WHY DOESN’T THIS HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF NOTES
A knock comes at the door, though, just as you’re rolling up your cuff sleeves.
“I’m sorry, sir,” the preacher says. “A vote has just been called for; it should only take a few minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” the preacher says. “The whole town has to vote on your marriage.”
You look to your best friend, who just shrugs his shoulders. You walk into the church proper and you see hundreds of people lined up to cast a ballot. There’s your mother and your father and her mother and father. There’s the woman who taught you in third grade. There’s the grocery store owner who always thought you were looking for trouble, and that guy who you accidentally got in trouble once for having a fake ID, and the religious old lady who thinks you shouldn’t kiss before you got married.
There’s the crazy ex-girlfriend of yours that thinks that you’re meant to be, your grandparents, all of those who approve and disapprove of you— and then there’s complete strangers.
Someone turns on a TV screen shoved in the corner of the room, and the news comes on. People are lining up all over to cast their ballot. And the preacher wasn’t exaggerating— in fact, he understated it. It’s not just the town— it’s the state. No, wait. It’s the entire country? Voting on your marriage?
Your girlfriend is crying in the corner, her white wedding dress slumping pathetically against the floor. You don’t know what to say. You just wanted to walk down the aisle. On the news, there’s a talk radio host talking about how ‘young men and women should wait until they’re at least 30 until getting married’ and how your marriage will taint the institution of marriage all together.
After a long, long wait, you hear the results. “I’m sorry,” the preacher says, “but you just can’t get married. The country has spoken. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
You hang your suit back up and kick off your shoes. She takes off her wedding dress and curls the tulle and organza in her hands. You exit the church with a large boulder of shame sitting in-between your two shoulder blades.
Where had you gone wrong? What right did those strangers have to say who you should marry? You love this girl with your whole heart, and it was supposed to be the best day of your life. And now it’s gone.
Sounds outrageous, right?
This is what happens when you vote on marriage. This is what happens when you vote down the possibility of gay marriage.
But this isolated incident won’t happen! You’re exaggerating!
Too late. It already has.
You don’t have the right to say that any two people can or cannot be married, no matter what the circumstance is. It’s that fucking simple.