The SOPA and PIPA bills being considered in the US Congress allow blocking of domain names by someone who simply makes a complaint. Technically they apply only to non-US-hosted web sites that are pirating digital content, but once the “machinery” is in place, they could be used to block any domain whatsoever, and without due (legal) process. And also, technically, the only person who can complain and get a domain blocked is a digital (music, text, art) rights owner, but in practice this will be almost impossible to enforce.
There is no due process and no way someone who is wrongfully blocked can get themselves quickly unblocked.
And were this legislation to pass in the US, it would signal strong support for other countries similarly blocking internationally-hosted content based on their own national laws. (Many do it already, but let’s not set an example.)
Join me in opposing these bills. Notify your US Senators and Representatives.
This site will be participating in the Strike on January 18th, 2012.
Looking back at some of the talk in the halls of the US Congress for about the last year, particularly about clarifying (or solidifying) Executive branch (they’re saying the President) authority to shut down some Internet capabilities in the case of an emergency1, such as a cyber-attack, makes me think that humans are fond of just shutting their eyes when faced with danger. (continue reading…)
I work with a dozen or so clients at any given time, and in the last three (or thereabouts) weeks I’ve noticed that some sites on small servers with limited capacity are being “eaten alive” by spidery searchbots. And not just the usual suspects—Google, Yahoo, MSN—but by specialized searchbots that exhibit a kind of behavior I haven’t seen very much before. It used to be that web site owners prayed for the searchbots to come by, and searchbots by and large were sparing in their examination of pages, not hitting a site very hard at all, but building an overall image of the pages on the site over a long time. 1
But times are changing rapidly! Even a site with very little human traffic may be suddenly and catastrophically overwhelmed by searchbot traffic. (continue reading…)
On March 10 (2009) Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying “something will happen soon” with respect to their presence in China. China today warned that Google must operate within their laws.
—the U.S. Internet company “will have to bear the consequences” if it follows through on its pledge to stop censoring its Chinese search site. [WSJ article]
Why is it that we in the “West” hear this statement so differently from the Chinese?
—You are free to say anything you want (in China) as long as it’s legal. [Sky paraphrases what they’ve said]
To give you a benchmark, in China it is illegal to have a photo of the Dalai Lama because he is called a subversive (splittist). In Costa Rica it has been illegal to propose changing the constitution. In the US (and many other countries) it is legal to propose changing the constitution, but illegal to attempt to change it by force or violence. In other words, in some countries it’s illegal to even talk about certain kinds of change…and therefore real and full free speech is impossible. There’s always a limit—it’s just quite variable and we have to work to make or keep it reasonable.