A Slippery Slope [Update 1]

Censorship for the Internet?
Image courtesy of melodysk

Regarding the US Senate panel passes bill against piracy websites article

Today the US Senate Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act bill on a 19-0 vote. The bill is designed to give Washington more power over foreign websites, essentially allowing the Obama administration to compile a blacklist of sites they do not want the American public to access.

Although the bill is intended for use against online pirates and illegal file-sharing services like Limewire and ThePirateBay, there are little provisions protecting any website from the ire of the government's magical eraser. Sadly, the cynicism in me projects that this bill will be abused of its substantial power, allowing the American government to ban sites that leaves a bitter taste in its mouth. With America holding big influential powers to other countries, a domino effect could soon occur whereby other governments would create their own censorship law.

It is not too far-fetched to assume that Wikileaks would promptly be added to this said blacklist. You want Big Brother? They don't even need a court order to shut a domain down.

The Internet is hailed as a cornerstone for free speech, allowing anyone's voice, not matter how small, to have a global presence and impact. This may no longer be the case for America, an ironic twist for the land of the free.

We have a situation on our hands. Not only for supporters of Wikileaks, but anyone who holds an unpopular view in the eyes of the government of the United States of America.

[ Update 2010-11-19 ]
Apologies, I miswrote US Senate, it meant to be Senate Judiciary Committee.

Good news! One of the members of the senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), has denounced the bill as, a bunker-buster cluster bomb aimed at the Internet and pledged to, do everything [he] can to take the necessary steps to stop it from passing the U.S. Senate.

Because the senator has announced his opposition to the bill, it is very likely that it will be dead this year. The new congress in the new year will probably introduce the bill again, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has stated that she is uncomfortable with the bill as well.

Re the senators

Wyden is sometimes ok. Don't trust Feinstein as far as you can throw her -- see my note about the Schumer-Feinstein amendment to the shield law, which is specifically aimed at WikiLeaks.

Hemming and hawing moralistically and then invariably doing the wrong thing is Feinstein's specialty.

The shield bill

There's another bill going through the U.S. Senate that is problematic in a number of ways. It is supposedly a "shield" law that would strengthen protections for journalists from orders to disclose sources.

In theory, we would like this law, but ironically, given the state of the U.S. (and other) corporate media, it is going to end up protecting the wrong people. The corporate media have been blatantly laundering government propaganda, the best-known case of which is the NYT's Judith Miller's complicity in the Libby/Cheney attack on Plame and Wilson. (Don't get me started.)

The deepest problem with the bill is that politicians are presuming to define who is a journalist deserving protection and who isn't -- and you know who they are excluding. It's not just WikiLeaks, but it is now specifically WikiLeaks, through the Schumer-Feinstein amendment, a grandstanding attack by two superannuated Dem senators if there ever was one.

Here's a good blogpost on the general background:


Here is the NYT report on the amendment when it was first developing:


And here, in an obviously anti-WL report, is the latest info I can find quickly about progress of the bill:


Will keep watch on the SJC. I used to love that committee. Fork.

19-0? So 81 didn't bother

19-0? So 81 didn't bother even coming? /Facepalm - 'democracy'.

Committee vote

That was just the Senate Judiciary Committee, not plenary. But still bad news, because now it's cleared for a full vote.

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