The SOPA Soap: A Story Of Bad Legislation Gone Too Far

November 26, 2011

We would rather watch this Soap Opera.

In this story our cast, crew, director, and writers are all elected officials in the U.S. government…ans since they are writing their own script, the lengths they are going to will affect the world. Our story begins in The U.S. House of Representatives with the discussion and vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA. The culmination of the pressure stemming from the RIAA and MPAA has finally broken the best of our actors, and the bad guys are moving in fast…

The SOPA and it’s sister legislation, the PROTECT IP ACT would in essence allow an entity in the U.S. government to seize domain names, and remove websites from the internet…if it can be shown that the site has any kind of connection to a U.S. jurisdiction. But this isn’t all it does. It goes so far as to order financial institutions like Paypal, Master card, Visa, and many others to stop processing financial data for their owners. Now they have not only gone too far, they managed to somehow drive the train off a cliff.

And The Fight Begins

But this is the SOPA Opera we have to watch

Now enter the good guys, all us citizens, being led by the likes of Google, Yahoo, Facebook, the European parliament, and almost every country that considers itself free, onto the stage. But will our legislators listen? This will be the plot surrounding a future episode, this time we will be discussing how vast and vague the definitions are in this piece of legislation. And the possibility of a U.S. government agency removing websites and destroying businesses globally.

Earlier this year the FBI conducted their first round of website take-downs, following the vague guides that are laid out by this legislation, and managed to remove a few sites that were actually actively engaged in copyright infringement. But many of the sites they removed from our view were not. The Spanish website Rojadirecta was blocked, in spite of the fact that 2 Spanish courts had deemed the site to be in compliance. Now the MPAA and RIAA are intending on going after other sites outside of U.S. control, but not jurisdiction.

Qualifying Criteria Is Vague

The wide sweeping criteria that would qualify a site to be eligible for removal would provide the agency with the tool to prove that almost every website you can see today on the internet is connected to a U.S. jurisdiction in some manner. Whether it is via a financial institution like Paypal, or a web hosting service, or just having management or development teams that are based in the U.S. There are a few other qualifying factors, but these are the basics. In the middle of a global financial crisis, and the unemployment rate hovering at 9% or more, for years, our players have decided to stifle an industry that is affecting the GDP more than Utility companies are.

Many have spoken out against this legislation, and others that started out as supporting it are changing their colors. The laws would adversely affect their businesses too. ISP’s, and web hosting services would be required to police their customers, a task that is so huge it’s inconceivable. Sites like eBay would begin having constant problems, and that’s just the start. This story will get worse before it gets better…

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