It’s finally here! American Censorship Day is in full swing, with sites like AVC and upstart search engine DuckDuckGo censoring their banners in protest of the proposed anti-piracy bills going before a Congressional hearing. Yesterday the titans of the internet sent a letter to Coongress opposing the new SOPA bill. Sadly none of them have joined the American Censorship day movement. But luckily tech’s best big mouth, Eric Schmidt, got a few choice words in.
Back when he was CEO of Google, Mr. Schmidt was always getting into trouble for saying wild, borderline creepy stuff. But now that he is executive chairman, the man can finally let it rip without being the final word from Google. As Reuters reports, auring an appearance yesterday at MIT, Mr. Schmidt declared, “”The solutions are draconian. There’s a bill that would require (internet service providers) to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.”
Because this proposed legislation is fundamentally clueless about the architecture of the internet, it now threatens to snare perfectly legitimate Canadian websites. According to Michael Geist at The Star, the new bills would block sites based on their IP addresses, which are assigned on a regional basis, meaning Canadian sites would be treated as “domestic” for the purposes of U.S. law.
And its not just our neighbours to the North we need to be worried about. A group of 100 prominent lawyers and law professors drafted a letter yesterday highlighting their concerns about the SOPA bill, addressing the potential complications it has for U.S. foreign policy, by giving American companies a free hand to censor “rogue” sites.
In sum, SOPA is a dangerous bill. It threatens the most vibrant sector of our economy — Internet commerce. It is directly at odds with the United States’ foreign policy of Internet openness, a fact that repressive regimes will seize upon to justify their censorship of the Internet. And it violates the First Amendment.
The onus of persuading Congress about the dangers of this bill falls to Google today, the only opponent of SOPA allowed to testify at the hearing, alongside five supporters of this anti-piracy legislation.