One of the many ways the nation’s lawmakers slip freedom-seizing legislation through the gauntlet of public scrutiny is by hiding it within larger legislative bills with more favorable sounding goals and titles. And some members of Congress are currently trying to do just that by pushing through legislation aimed at stopping illegal, online piracy, for example. But within this legislation are tenets that will essentially criminalize the posting of links, which have the potential to censor much of the internet.
The Hill reports that the Stop Online Piracy Act(SOPA), the brainchild of House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), will target any companies, entities, and even search engines that in any way link to foreign websites that violate online piracy laws. So search engines like Google and Bing, for instance, will be held liable when user queries pull up sites that even just link to other sites that may contain pirated materials.
“By criminalizing links, what these bills do is they force you to take content off the internet,” said Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. He added that the bill will also eventually destroy the “fundamental structure of the internet itself.”
Google, of course, has a vested interest in preserving its ability to allow user access to all websites, including even websites overseas that contain or link to pirated content. After all, the web giant profits from promoting many of these sites. But at the same time, the dubious nature of the wording in SOPA puts many other internet users at risk as well, as it opens the floodgates for the trampling of internet free speech by the government.
SOPA’s counterpart in the Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), is similar in that it allows the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to arbitrarily shut down websites at will without due process or proper trial. Like SOPA, PIPA is an assault on the US Constitution disguised as increased law enforcement — but in reality, law enforcement already has the ability to pursue those who commit crimes (http://www.naturalnews.com/033130_P…).
“It’s not a good thing. I understand the goal of what SOPA and PIPA are trying to do. Their goal is reasonable, their mechanism is terrible,” added Schmidt. “They should not criminalize the intermediaries. They should go after the people that are violating the law.”
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