Tech Giants Take Out Newspaper Ad Blasting Net Censorship Proposition
Earlier this week, on Anti-Censorship Day, we reported on a battle brewing over proposed Internet Blacklist Legislation. Known as the Protect IP Act in the U.S. Senate, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, SOPA is gaining political momentum, but also gaining some significant opposition. "The Internet and Free Speech will never be the same," if the legislation goes to law, according to Mozilla, and The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is vehemently opposed to it as well. Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo! and Zynga have all also sent a letter opposing the proposed legislation, which would allow the government to force ISPs to redirect or dump users' attempts to reach certain websites.
Now, Google, Facebook and Zynga (and others) have taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times opposing SOPA.
"While it's good to see Google et al put their concerns on a page of the New York Times, it appears old-fashioned political lobbying by the music and movies companies has completely overwhelmed the technology industry. The sponsors of the bill are touting this as a way to protect jobs, while opponents point out the entire Web economy would never have developed under such restrictions. Worse, if SOPA passes with its vague language, the relatively small amount of music and film jobs (potentially) saved will pale beside the number of jobs lost as the Web (potentially) grinds to a halt."
Indeed, one of the problems with this type of legislation is that it is almost always filled with vague language that ends up being manipulated down the road. That happened numerous times with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
For its part, Google has been especially opposed to SOPA, and if the bill passes, it could directly impact Google's revenues. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has eviscerated SOPA, dubbing it "censorship" and calling it "draconian."
Meanwhile, the proposed legislation, would according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
"....grant the government and private parties unprecedented power to interfere with the Internet's domain name system (DNS). The government would be able to force ISPs and search engines to redirect or dump users' attempts to reach certain websites' URLs. In response, third parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet (not just the newly censored U.S. version), which will create new computer security vulnerabilities as the reliability and universality of the DNS evaporates."
This proposed legislation is to be taken very seriously. It's interesting that the tech companies opposing it turned to old media--the grey lady of newspapers--to voice their problems with it.