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Just How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Proposed Legislation Threatens Our Online Communities!

Since when did public outcry against proposed legislation mean you should postpone the vote?

‘Cause I thought it meant you were supposed to vote, "NO," Senators!

Hello! Is anybody listening?

There’s proposed legislation backed by some big corporate interests. It’s the_ PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. If only it were so benign.

This legislation wielded as an excising tool by the government and controlled by the biggies backing it, like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, could in effect and without overt notice, shut down an entire online community, like Gulfport.Patch.com, because it perceives a possible infringement, knowingly or unknowingly, against a possible copyright.

No hearing, no fine, just all access severed. Period. This is basically carte blanche to shut down any site that gets targeted by these heavyweight interests. Our own Gulfport.patch.com could be targeted because of any writer/blogger it perceives as an infringement or threat.

Opposing the proposed legislation are Google, Mozilla Corp., Facebook, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Yahoo!, eBay, American Express, reddit, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, English Wikipedia.

Internet entrepreneurs including Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley signed a letter to Congress expressing their opposition to the legislation.

The Tea Party Patriots have argued that the bill “is bad for consumers.” A letter of opposition was signed by 130 technology entrepreneurs and executives and sent to Congress to express their concern that the law in its present form would “hurt economic growth and chill innovation in legitimate services that help people create, communicate, and make money online.”

English-language Wikipedia sites joined other Internet sites in protesting the PIPA and SOPA legislation by staging a “blackout” of service for 24 hours on Jan. 18, 2012. Many websites protested, including: Wikipedia, CNet and Cheezburger network sites. Some websites denied access to their websites altogether.

My questions are rhetorical, of course.

Who determines what an infringement is if there is no hearing or judicial process?

How can one defend one’s self against such action if they are not afforded any legal rights or avenues to do so.

Doesn’t this legislation authorize and promote assumption of guilt and the exacting of punishment without due process?

Sure sounds like potential right infringement to me, just not the kind that the backers of this legislation are interested in.

Prior to the Big Blackout Day, petitions against the legislation were circulated nationwide via the free Internet that is currently, not yet, controlled by corporate interests. I signed them all and sent letters to our trusted servant, the senator. After the vote was to occur but did not, I received this pat-response letter from the office of the good senator. It prompted me to write this post.

Below is the letter in its entirety followed by citations from Wikipedia, one of the potentially threatened sites. They have written a very extensive, unbiased and clear look at the issue in language we can all understand, citing both supporters and opponents.

E-mail Reponse from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
From: “Bill@billnelson.senate.gov” <Bill@billnelson.senate.gov>
To: tracectaylor@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2012 1:20 PMSubject: RE: Your response from Senator Bill Nelson

Dear Ms. Taylor:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. Over the past month, I’ve heard from a number of folks who’ve voiced concerns that the bills could inadvertently punish law-abiding websites and Internet retailers. In fact, there was enough concern about the Protect IP Act that the Senate postponed a vote on the legislation.
I strongly support Internet freedom, which includes easy access to and movement around the web. But I think that something needs to be done about piracy and counterfeiting from foreign websites. Crooks who try to evade the law online cost the U.S. billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.  I will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to make sure that any final legislation is narrowly tailored to stop piracy without stepping on innovation and competition online.
So, thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important issue. Please know that I’ll keep your views in mind as work continues on this legislation. If I can be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.                          
Sincerely,Bill Nelson

Citations from Wikipedia

In the wake of online protests held on January 18, 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that a vote on the bill would be postponed until issues raised about the bill were resolved. - Wikipedia

Opponents of the legislation warn that the PROTECT IP Act would have a negative impact on online communities. Journalist Rebecca MacKinnon argued in an op-ed that making companies liable for users’ actions could have a chilling effect on user-generated sites like YouTube. “The intention is not the same as China’s Great Firewall, a nationwide system of Web censorship, but the practical effect could be similar”, she says.[67] Policy analysts for New America Foundation say this legislation would enable law enforcement to take down an entire domain due to something posted on a single blog: “Yes, an entire, largely innocent online community could be punished for the actions of a tiny minority. - wikipedia

In My Opinion: Very Dangerous Path

In my opinion, This legislation, regardless of what guise it’s presented in, is the first step down a very dangerous path. It's a wolf in sheeps clothing.

An important key to total control of the masses is to control the access and flow of information. Free access to information and the WWW means that if someone commits atrocities against humanity in one part of the world, the rest of the world will know about it in moments. We can give micro loans to a person we have never met so they can start a business or improve their farm or go to school. We can do all of this without any governmental or corporate controls. Do you honestly think if corporations, by way of our corporate-centered government, are allowed to monitor and control the flow, that free access to the truth, any truth, will be allowed?

I think not.

For more info, here are some links:
http://www.wbjournal.com/news50782.html
http://www.dontcensorthenet.com/full-text-of-the-protect-ip-act-of-2011
http://www.thehumanrightsblog.com/?p=1202

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Ray February 23, 2012 at 11:57 AM
One more notch in the tree of freedom. Stand up now and toss em all out before they have the entire tree cut down.

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