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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Can someone please explain the "internet blacklist bill" to me?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23275 points ) October 25th, 2011

My Facebook feed has been flooded recently with posts asking people to sign petitions and whatnot against this “internet blacklist bill.” I always Google stuff like that before I bother clicking, let alone filling anything out, but this still seems far fetched. A bill that threatens to all but demolish sites like YouTube and Facebook… I would think this would be a huge deal if it were true, not just some sporadic articles on Google from the last 6 months and a bunch of social networking posts. Can someone please explain?

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24 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I would use extreme caution before giving out any personal information on any site like this. The Trojan comes in many forms. Even clicking on the site can be backtracked to you and your computer.

Reader beware!

Brian1946's avatar

Perhaps you’ve already read this, but here’s what I found at http://demandprogress.org/blacklist/ : “A new bill being debated in Congress would have the Attorney General create an Internet blacklist of sites that US Internet providers would be required to block.”

From http://demandprogress.org/blacklist/coica : “What kind of domains can go on the list?

The list is for domains ‘dedicated to infringing activity,’ which is defined very broadly — any site where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are ‘central to the activity of the Internet site’ would be blocked.

What’s so bad about that?

Well, it means sites like YouTube could get censored in the US. Copyright holders like Viacom argue that copyrighted material is central to activity of YouTube. But under current US law, YouTube is perfectly legal as long as they take down copyrighted material when they’re informed about it—which is why Viacom lost their case in court. If this bill passes, Viacom doesn’t even need to prove YouTube is doing anything illegal—as long as they can persuade a court that enough other people are using it for copyright infringement, that’s enough to get the whole site censored.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Brian1946 yes, that’s what I found, also. It just seems that the only information that I can find that is recent comes from “demandprogress.org,” which bugs me. I don’t know. I feel like I am more likely to trust something online if I can find multiple, reliable sources with similar information.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Essentially it allows the courts to effectively block any site deemed to have no significant use other than facilitating the distribution of black market goods (think counterfeit products, unauthorized music or video, other IP content, etc.) It also provides for measures to ensure those who associate with the site (advertisers, payment services, ISP’s etc.) cooperate with the government.

Here it is in PDF, aka S.968, the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011” or the “PROTECT IP Act of 2011”.

Dog's avatar

Doesn’t Congress have anything better to do than trying to control what is on the internet?

I mean, lets face it, such a bill would have far too many innocent victims caught up in a mire of yellow tape, and there are enough people out of work already.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Dog that’s kind of my point. It seems so far out there that I have a hard time seeing why they would do such a thing, and if it were actually as it is being sensationalized to be, wouldn’t it be big news? Or, bigger news than it is?

@wonderingwhy now that makes sense. Targeting piracy or other shady sites sounds logical. I haven’t read the PDF, yet, but I gather the fear that something like YouTube would be a concern because the claim is that they would have to take responsibility for everything posted by the public?

wonderingwhy's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf You Tube can get around that easily just by telling people that they are not authorized to post controlled IP (which they no doubt already do, it puts the burden on the poster) and they meet (I would imagine) the “other significant use” criteria; though they might have to have a more “through” takedown. They wouldn’t be in any danger but the people who own IP posted on You Tube would have a much easier time of getting it taken down.

Some of the more concerning aspects of it is the potential for abuse and the issue that potentially anyone (other sites, browsers, ISP’s, etc.) linking to or facilitating a connection to a blacklisted site can be ordered to stop which essentially “erases” the offending site. Also a definition of significant use must be developed.

Hibernate's avatar

YouTube started out like a place where people could upload personal videos [that’s why it’s called YOU tube]. Now people just create accounts and upload copyrighted materials.

@ANef_is_Enuf youtube is free and if your account gets deleted you just create another one. If it was to be a payed site people would think twice before uploading copyrighted materials because it can be traced back to them. [thus piracy wouldn’t be that easy to be perform].

jaytkay's avatar

If it’s “entertainment industry-backed” and concerns copyright, it’s gonna suck. If they had their way, our own home videos would be pay-per-view.

LA Times opinion page Technology: Entrepreneurs blast the Protect IP Act

The Protect IP Act, an entertainment industry-backed bill to combat online piracy, has drawn fire from tech advocacy groups, law professors and noteworthy engineers who worry about its effects on the Internet ecosystem. Now, more than 100 tech entrepreneurs and executives are adding their voices to the opposition, sending a letter to members of Congress warning about the threat the bill poses to startups, innovation and economic growth…

link

HungryGuy's avatar

Yeah, sounds like a hoax to me as well, in order to harvest email addys….

Afos22's avatar

If it is real, it seems like an impediment of the 1st amendment.

bkcunningham's avatar

It is a real bill. Here’s a portion of a letter that 108 professors from 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who teach and write about intellectual property, Internet law, innovation, and the First Amendment have to say about the bill:

We strongly urge the members of Congress to reject the PROTECT‐IP Act (the “Act”). Although the problems the Act attempts to address – online copyright and trademark infringement – are serious ones presenting new and difficult enforcement challenges, the approach taken in the Act has grave constitutional infirmities, potentially dangerous consequences for the stability and security of the Internetʹs addressing system, and will undermine United States foreign policy and strong support of free expression on the Internet around the world.

The Act would allow the government to break the Internet addressing system. It requires Internet service providers, and operators of Internet name servers, to refuse to recognize Internet domains that a court considers “dedicated to infringing activities.” But rather than wait until a Web site is actually judged infringing before imposing the equivalent of an Internet death penalty, the Act would allow courts to order any Internet service provider to stop recognizing the site even on a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction issued the same day the complaint is filed. Courts could issue such an order even if the owner of that domain name was never given notice that a case against it had been filed at all.

The Act goes still further. It requires credit card providers, advertisers, and search engines to refuse to deal with the owners of such sites. For example, search engines are required to “(i) remove or disable access to the Internet site associated with the domain name set forth in the court order; or (ii) not serve a hypertext link to such Internet site.” In the case of credit card companies and advertisers, they must stop doing business not only with sites the government has chosen to sue but any site that a private copyright or trademark owner claims is predominantly infringing. Giving this enormous new power not just to the government but to any copyright and trademark owner would not only disrupt the operations of the allegedly infringing web site without a final judgment of wrongdoing, but would make it extraordinarily difficult for advertisers and credit card companies to do business on the Internet.

Remarkably, the bill applies to domain names outside the United States, even if they are registered not in the .com but, say, the .uk or .fr domains. It even applies to sites that have no connection with the United States at all, so long as they allegedly “harm holders” of US intellectual property rights.

Here is the rest of the letter: http://blogs.law.stanford.edu/newsfeed/files/2011/07/PROTECT-IP-letter-final.pdf

bkcunningham's avatar

@Afos22, that is exactly what the professors say in the letter: The proposed Act has three major problems that require its rejection:
1. Suppressing speech without notice and a proper hearing
2. Breaking the Internet’s infrastructure
3. Undermining United States’ leadership in supporting and defending free speech and the free exchange of information on the Internet

bkcunningham's avatar

Here’s another letter, if anyone is interested, opposing the bill. This one is from “leading domain name system (DNS) designers, operators, and researchers, who have created numerous “RFCs” (technical design documents) for DNS, published many peer-reviewed academic studies relating to architecture and security of the DNS, and operate important DNS infrastructure on the Internet.”

http://www.shinkuro.com/PROTECT%20IP%20Technical%20Whitepaper%20Final.pdf

ETpro's avatar

It looks like this Congress is intent on working on ANY problem other than getting people back to work, because doing that would make it harder to beat Obama in 2012.

Brian1946's avatar

@ETpro

That’s probably true in general, although I think one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is an exception to that.

ETpro's avatar

@Brian1946 Senators on both sides of the idle are for sale. I have a big bone to pick with Sen. Leahy now. Unfortuantely, I;m in the wrong state to have much impact on him.

jerv's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf “Targeting piracy or other shady sites sounds logical.”

Nuclear fission was originally meant to provide cheap electricity; ask Nagasaki and Hiroshima how they liked their free energy. Things can easily be twisted to something other than their original intent or at least the stated intent and that is what is happening here.

And it’s easy to get support for it because many people don’t understand the issues and trust the first bullet-point synopsis they hear; if that happens to be from, say, the RIAA or MPAA then they will see it as a bill that only affects those of copyrighted materials. They don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain, they don’t dig too deep or look into the collateral damage.

Sadly, the bills are often debated and passed by Congresscritters that know even less about the issues than the voters!

@bkcunningham That Shinkuro link was broken. Is this it?

One telling paragraph from that document reads:

“Mandated DNS filtering by nameservers threatens universal naming by requiring that some nameservers return different results than others for certain domains. While this type of mandated DNS manipulation is reportedly used in some Middle Eastern countries and in the so-called Great Firewall of China, the mandated DNS filtering proposed by PROTECT IP would be unprecedented in the United States and poses some serious concerns as described below. ”

In laymen’s terms, the internet could (and may actually) become more restricted in the US than it is in Iran, North Korea, or China. Think of the implications of that!

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, @jerv. That is the link. Thank you.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@jerv I’m not saying I agree, I just think that hearing that the government is targeting piracy, vs the government is targeting YouTube… makes more sense.

jerv's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf All I’m saying is that that’s how they get you.

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