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WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  Meet the senator blocking Big Content's Web censorship plan

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Offline DaBees-Knees

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Meet the senator blocking Big Content's Web censorship plan
« on: April 11, 2011, 03:08:34 am »


Start talking about the Web censorship legislation currently being drafted in both chambers of Congress, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) becomes an instant quote machine. This isn't just another of the many political issues Wyden has to juggle; the man cares about the Internet. And in his passion to defend it, he's not afraid to ruin his chances of becoming the next ex-senator to head the Motion Picture Association of America.

"You get a lot of folks expressing increasing concern that essentially one part of the American economy, the content industry, is trying to use government as a club to beat up on one of the most promising parts but the economy of the future—the Internet," Wyden told me last week when we talked about the issue. "These major content lobbyists shouldn't be provided the authority to cluster bomb on the 'Net."

The cluster bomb in question here is COICA, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, first introduced in the Senate late last year. It passed unanimously out of committee, though it did not get a full vote before the end of the Congressional term. This year, both chambers are drafting tweaked versions of COICA, due to be rolled out separately in the next few weeks, and the House recently held two hearings on the issue.

COICA allows the government to block sites at the domain name (DNS) level, and it would require online ad networks and credit card companies to stop working with blocked sites. The goal is to target foreign piracy and counterfeiting sites that can't be easily reached through US courts. The blocks would require judicial sign-off, but most hearings would feature only the government's point of view, and rightsholders would largely supply the target list to government investigators.

In Wyden's view, the whole idea is little more than "creeping corporate control of the Internet."

Wyden has credibility on Internet issues. When the Communications Decency Act passed in the mid-1990s, Wyden managed to write and insert Section 230 into the bill, which freed companies and bloggers alike from liability for material written or submitted by others. It was a landmark provision, one that keeps ISPs, sites like Ars Technica, and companies like Google safe from lawsuits over comments and videos produced by users. (Much of the rest of the law was thrown out as an unconstitutional restriction on speech.)

Wyden recently reflected on that moment in a speech about Section 230. "I don’t want to embarrass any of my colleagues," he said, "but in the mid-90’s much of the debate was defined by folks who were afraid of the new technology—they wanted to protect children from the scary Internet—Chris and I hit on an idea that we felt would enable these new networks to protect their users without making them magnets for lawsuits… It was our intention to protect the network effect from the smothering hand of government and litigation."

In the debate over COICA, Wyden sees a similar dynamic at play, and he intends to take a leading role in the debate. "If the new version of COICA is like last year's version of COICA," he told me, "I will do everything in my power to block it.

To see the full interview go to the URL listed at the start. It's well worth a read.  :gum:

WinMX World :: Forum  |  Discussion  |  WinMx World News  |  Meet the senator blocking Big Content's Web censorship plan

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