time to kill the internet

Congressional Support Grows For Bill To Shut Down Any Website

There’s suddenly a whole lot of “bipartisan support” for a supposed anti-piracy law that will actually let the U.S. Government force American Internet providers to shut down all access to any website immediately. Why might that be a popular idea, in Congress, right about now? And why are these anti-government Republicans like Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas behind such a heavy handed Big Brother off-switch on the entire Internet? And why is Joe Biden apparently strongly against such legislation, even though the Obama Administration supports it fully? Oh, right, because Biden is talking about how other countries shouldn’t do what the United States is about to do.

The conveniently rare bipartisan supporters of the SOPA/Protect IP censorship bills claim it’s to protect Republican interests such as “Hollywood movie studios” and “Hollywood media companies,” but in fact the “Protect IP” and “SOPA” bills actually let the government order any website accused of illegal distribution of intellectual property to be shut down by all American Internet service providers. Hey, is there a Kuwaiti guy putting a spam link to his Russian movie download site in the comments of, say, OccupyWallSt.org? Well just shut down OccupyWallSt.org, it’s that easy.

We’ve written about this before, and it just keeps getting worse. The interesting thing is that Google and Facebook and other such Internet giants are against the law, they say because there’s so much insane potential for abuse that a big Internet company would suddenly be forced to have a whole division to shut down sites as fast as whatever government agency demands it.

Bloomberg reports tonight:

[Lamar] Smith’s Stop Online Piracy Act is aimed at foreign sites dedicated to pirated material, but Web giants such as Google and Facebook and telecommunications firms say his proposal goes too far, making them responsible for shutting down bad actors.

And how, exactly, does it go “too far,” you might be wondering? By creating a government “Internet blacklist” no different than China’s infamous “Great Firewall” that blocks anything critical of the Chinese government, along with whatever else the censors don’t want you looking at. This is how, for example, the #OWS protests are all but invisible on the Chinese Internet. But in China, it’s top down — the government does the actual administering of the Internet blacklist and the nation’s domain name servers. The typically American twist is that the government will demand that “free enterprise” do the dirty work, just as it did during the Bush Jr. wiretapping scandals we’ve all apparently completely forgotten.

Here’s a calm assessment from yesterday’s New York Times op-ed page:

The solutions offered by the legislation, however, threaten to inflict collateral damage on democratic discourse and dissent both at home and around the world.

The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright — a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification. The intention is not the same as China’s Great Firewall, a nationwide system of Web censorship, but the practical effect could be similar.

When the NYT is suggesting a bipartisan law being rushed through Congress to an eager president for signing is actually a Chinese-style “Great Firewall” to suppress people, well …. we guess you should “write your representative and senator” on the way to the pitchfork and gasoline store.

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

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167 comments

  1. noodlesalad

    First they came for my pron, and I didn't say anything, because my wife would be pissed. Then they came for my huffington post, and I didn't say anything because I didn't really miss it. Then they came for my Wonkette, and I couldn't say anything, because the comments section wasn't working anyway. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to post a hilariously relevant LongCat pic to my facebook wall.

    1. Crowe2011

      Bye-bye America. The rest of us will keep the internet warm until you remember that whole 'land of the free thing' or figure out how to use proxy servers.

    2. Biel_ze_Bubba

      They won't come for you … but they might knock down your house if someone pastes an infringing poster on your door.

  2. ChernobylSoup

    Good thing all the justices at SCOTUS are on top of how the googlies and bookspaces and webbingsnets really work. They'll see right through this blantantly unconstitutional law and strike it down as soon as those fuckwits in Congr

  3. user-of-owls

    Always with the glass half empty, Ken. Didn't it occur to you that we…I mean, someone…could start mass-posting spam links to Russian movie download sites on FoxNews.com and Redstate?

      1. Lionel[redacted]Esq

        You guys have a private sex-twitter feed and I wasn't invited?

        I guess even at Wonkette, I'm not cool.

  4. Callyson

    Several lawmakers expressed concern that the illegal exchange of copyrighted movies, software and music is draining U.S. media companies and that current laws don’t give law enforcement agencies enough power to stop bad actors.
    1. Actually, what is draining U.S. media companies is the endless supply of crappy movies, software and music. Current powers that be in Hollywood give power to bad actors, bad writers, bad producers, and bad plot lines.
    2. Also–the following is not just for black people anymore:
    Public Enemy – Burn Hollywood Burn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71un0nkjKB8

    1. OneDollarJuana

      What they're afraid of is uncopyrighted videos of police brutality, and websites that expose corporate and bankster greed. And congressmen enabling all of it.

      1. horsedreamer_1

        Thankfully, it will be easy for the Buffalo Beast to repatriate to Canada: he can sneak board the Bills's caravan to Toronto.

    2. LibrulEleet

      "Current laws don’t give law enforcement agencies enough power to stop bad actors."

      One of them even got elected president a few decades ago.

      1. RadiosTyrone

        Or if that motherfucker signs such a bill, I would say a president who got elected a few years ago.

    3. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Won't they be surprised when they discover that the people downloading free stuff are downloading free stuff because they don't want to pay for it (who'd ever have imagined that?), and that their shitty content continues to generate shitty revenue?

      Hahaha. We will laugh — until we get another GOP adminstration with another asshole attorney general, who start shutting down all the other stuff they don't like, just because they can.

  5. johnnyzhivago

    Already wrote my congressjoker and posted this to Facebook. Got less attention than my post about my Koi dying from pond inversion oxygen starvation. Too bad that when people wake up and see the trashheap this country is turning into it will be too late.

    Don't forget, only 45 days to Christmas!!!

  6. ProgressiveInga

    I just want to shut down the sites that have The Hermanator saying something stupid. Oh, that's all of 'em. Nevermind.

  7. OneDollarJuana

    What they're really getting at is the Occupy movement. Just you wait. Websites, IM's, Twitter, all will be the subject of "brownouts" at first, then outright cutoffs. Even Facebook, although it's run by a corporate fascist who would never steal your privacy (oops! did it again. sorry). What's going to save the movement is good old word-of-mouth and paper, I'm guessing.

  8. Pres.Libunatic

    Sure, because everyone is dying to pirate the second reboot of Superman and Spider-Man, and the third reboot of Hulk and we ought to shut down the whole fucking Internet to protect those valuable franchises.

    SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING!

  9. chascates

    The Patriot Act gone berserk? Millions believed Obama would use this past national warning test to seize control of the media but online fascism has come sneaking in, on 'little cat feet' so that the perpetrators can claim it was done to protect those it will victimize.

      1. Negropolis

        Yes, those dangerous pot-smoking, terminally-ill grandmothers' dispensary stashes. Surely, they are history's greatest monsters.

  10. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Thank the gods that sucking mass media's cock takes precedent to helping Americans get jobs or pay for their homes. No wonder Congress' ratings are so high.

  11. donner_froh

    When THEY do it they are crushing the tender shoots of freedom and democracy before they have a chance to blossom. When WE do it we are protecting the valuable intellectual property rights of our citizens.

    Works for me.

    1. Herring_Burnit

      I'm always amazed that we have the gall to lecture the Chinese on human rights, given this country's record. And also very amused when the Chinese get a dig in, although I will confess that I would not want to live in China, or under such rampant capitalism disguised as Communism.

  12. Antispandex

    First there was that story about them using the Patriot Act to shut down protests, and now this? What a bunch of Negative Nellies. I mean, what could go wrong?

  13. Guppy

    "just as it did during the Bush Jr. wiretapping scandals we’ve all apparently completely forgotten"

    Oh no, I still clearly remember the junior senator from Illinois voting to give everyone a pass on that stunt.

      1. RadiosTyrone

        Wait, didn't Canada have an internet controversy about having to pay by the minute last year? What became of that? *dusting off passport*

    1. Nothingisamiss

      Again and again I'm forced to find warmer countries that seem like Canada, but allow me he pleasure of not driving through snow. Still…..eh? I've friends in B.C.

      1. spends2much

        It's mid-November ,and here in Toronto, I know people who have just put away their shorts for the season. Thank you, climate change!

  14. weejee

    That frantic collection of Kochsuckers in Congress are such wussies. Let them know Founder (not fondler, like our current footzbawl icons) Ben Franklin thinks that "those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    Asswipes one and all !!!!

    1. Antispandex

      You know, I don't mind being free, or maybe even you being free, but those other people? Geeze, I just don't know.

          1. Chichikovovich

            Oh my God! That means I will now tell you a happy story about a cute puppy I saw last week. What a little rascal he was!!! And maudit 'ostie tabernak, you won't believe how he jumped up and licked my face. And then, even worse was how he even piddled on the newspaper I laid out for him. What a scamp! I think I have no choice but to end this delightful tail tale (get it) now. There will be no more banter tonight. I am now going to bed of my own free will. Goodbye.

          2. Chichikovovich

            These words send a sweet aroma to my nose. Sorry I didn't join in earlier, I was away from the computer, wrapped in my overcoat, on my taras on Nevski Prospekt.

  15. tcaalaw

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

    Commissioner Pravin Lal, "U.N. Declaration of Rights"

    1. Negropolis

      You know, Nigeria doesn't sound so bad. There, any man or woman can be an online Nigerian prince or princess. Remember, you are just royalty waiting to happen.

      1. Chichikovovich

        And you can't turn around without someone handing you hundreds of millions of dollars. What a country!

  16. stopthemovie

    1984 knocking at your door will you let it in will you let it run your life ……. Apologies to Spirit.

  17. Negropolis

    Congress must think it's 9% approval rating is too damn high, or they realize that a coup attempt is coming. Either way, they are more out of touch with reality than Kim Kardashian.

    Maybe, the revolution won't be Youtubed and televised, but that didn't seem to bother France's, much…

    On this particular issue, they have got to realize that the cat's already out of the bag on online piracy, and that this doesn't solve the preceived problem, right?

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Oh, it solves the perceived problem, all right.
      Just as setting off a large truck bomb on Fifth avenue would solve the perceived problem of sidewalk peddlers of fake Gucci bags.

  18. LetUsBray

    This has to make Miche1e Bachmann happy, right? I mean, she was just saying we should be more like China.

  19. Chet Kincaid

    Your Googles and your Streaming Music Sites want to be free to continue posting everyone's music and videos without even the courtesy of asking permission in advance, and free to stall, dissemble, and make artists sign out forms in quadruplicate for every megabyte of misused property they demand be taken down.

    But oh, it's big mega-corporations who've swindled away the rights of some of those artists, so lets all rip everyone off!

  20. lulzmonger

    What a heartwarming story!
    At last, "D" & "R" alike can find common ground:

    "The peasants are revolting!"
    "You said it! They stink on ice!"

    A charitably-minded person like myself might go so far as to suggest that a complete list of Congressional SOPA supporters be distributed nationwide, along with the kindly suggestion of sending each & every one of them their very own copies of Mein Kampf as stocking-stuffers.

    Perhaps a brief note could be included with the book reminding them that "THIS IS NOT AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL."

    'Tis the season, after all!

  21. not that Dewey

    If we rename the website "Wonketster" and start offering free pirated buttseks, I bet Lamar Smith of Texas won't want to shut it down.

  22. BarackMyWorld

    I am confident the SCOTUS would strike down this law, provided they see it as infringing on the rights of their beloved corporate citizens.

  23. littlebigdaddy

    Completely OT, but did anyone see The Daily Show yesterday? All, and I mean ALL, of Stewart's Cain-Libya jokes were lifted from the Wonkette thread. I personally feel flattered, but some of you more radical types may want to occupy The Daily Show.

  24. El Pinche

    Dust off those 300 baud modems, I think we're getting our country back. We're back to 1985 already. I can't wait till 1978, I love Three's Company. However 1970 and earlier will suck balls since I'll have to become a cook or servant.

      1. WootInTarnation

        Hey, you stole my line. And my natural place in society. I just got called uppity the other day (really). We're going to have to fight over that job mucking out the outhouses.

    1. Negropolis

      Either that or being able to sing, dance, and/or act well. Also, throw/kick/run a ball through, over, or in something with precision. And there is still yet another option. You could also become some minority inventor/entrepreneur who comes up with something brilliant, only to not get your patent in on time and your idea stolen, and then have your house firebombed or some shit.

      So many (terrible) options!

    2. natoslug

      1970? Fuck, I'll be back in diapers. I wasn't planning on doing that for another four or five decades. At least my Steve Martin "Wild and Crazy Guy" eight-track will be playable again.

  25. sbj1964

    I love the Daily Show ! I would unplug my dying mother from life support if Jon Stewart needed to charge his cellphone!

        1. Negropolis

          About time Skynet comes online, so few people will have access to healthcare that we'll be near death, anyway, ladden with cancer and diabetes and heart disease with busted joints from our epically high levels of morbid obesity.

          We'll be trading chickens or selling our bodies on the street for healthcare before the decade's out.

  26. weejee

    The elected whores are widly Kochsucking their corporate masters on this one. If you sing a pop song and post it on YouTube, it will become a felony with a potential 5 year sentence 'cause you'll have aided and abetted the streaming of a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user. This is an intertube version of a DMCA takedown. Is this a fucking great country or what? Any of you younger Wonketteers been trying to learn the guitar using YouTubie posts, kiss that goodbye. And anything for you gammie gammers? You knew there was, so just drop yer drawers and get ready for some serious buttsechs.

    1. natoslug

      Hey, that IS job creation. CCA can build a few more private prisons and hire some more poorly-trained guards to keep track of us all. Prison for all would mean we finally get our Universal Healthcare. It's a win for everyone!

  27. owhatever

    Our government would never shut down a citizen's web site and curtail our freedom of speech. You people are always jumping to conclusiiiiooxh24999 — terminate.

  28. weejee

    Qwik OT (well it's 9½ minutes, so not that quick)

    /snark off, I wuz too charmed by this C'Addle treasure.

    If you caught the post of 84-year-old Dorli Rainey getting peppersprayed here in Occupy Seattle, Boing Boing has an Olbermann interview of the delovely Dorli. After the intro, Keef O only says about a dozen words tops. Once Ms. Rainey gets rolling she is something else on so many levels including that she is sadly seeing signs today that remind her of her childhood in Germany (I know it's hard, but do the math).

  29. datateday

    Well, it was foolish to think they wouldn't endeavor to shut paradise down. It was a nice run while it lasted…

  30. imissopus

    Everyone take a deep breath. This sucker has not yet even gotten out of the Judiciary Committee. Lamar Smith also said today that he's not happy about the provisions that would allow the DOJ to order an ISP to block all access to a website, an action that would have to be approved by a court order anyway – it's not as if the AG would have unfettered power to shut down a website simply on his own say-so. This sucker is likely to get amended before Judiciary even votes on it.

    And while there is bipartisan support for this thing, there is also bipartisan opposition: Zoe Lofgren and other folks whose districts touch Silicon Valley, plus Darrell Issa and our old friend Dr. Paul, among others.

    Anyway, even if the bill makes it to the floor of the House and passes, it still has to go through mark-up with its sister bill in the Senate. Currently, Ron Wyden of Oregon has a hold on that bill to prevent it from going to the floor, and he shows no sign of giving that up. So mark-up might never happen, and if it does the Senate bill is quite a bit less expansive then the House version, so it will take quite a bit of work to reconcile the two. In other words, we are a long, long way away from anything going to the president's desk.

    There are a lot of terrible ideas in this bill. That's why committees hold hearings for these things. It's hardly being "rushed through" for an "eager president" to sign – it was introduced on Oct. 26 and three weeks later is getting its first hearing. There will be quite a few more, particularly now that companies like Google and FB and Verizon are lobbying against it so furiously. Meantime, Wyden has had a hold on the Senate bill for six months, and it has taken the House at least that long to put together their own version. So it's not as if things are moving swiftly here.

    You know what's funny? The linked Reuters, Bloomberg, and NYT articles make no mention of Obama and his alleged eagerness for this bill. None, zero, nada. It just wouldn't be a Layne post if he didn't take his shots. If Obama has spoken in favor of this bill (at least publicly), I couldn't find anything on the Googles about it.

    If you want to read about an absolutely shitty bill that DID pass the House recently, take a look at today's Gail Collins column over in the NYT. Talk about some fuckery.

    1. Extemporanus

      Thank you for occupying Wonkette, comrade.

      This is exactly the manner of measured, informed, well-reasoned dissent in which I should've engaged a few weeks back, rather than the frustration-fueled, insult-filled, frag-and-run stunt that I pointlessly pulled instead.

      You all deserve much better from me, and I apologize if any high minded, myopic, motherfucking cross-eyed cum dumpsters were offended. (Haha!)

    2. poorgradstudent

      Good to hear.

      Maybe a little off-topic, but I still worry about the future of interpretations of "fair use", given certain legal shenanigans against Internet review/pop culture geekery shows and blogs I read about now and then. I can see even a much watered-down version of this bill causing complications in that regard, but it's probably safe to bet that pop culture recycling/reviewing that makes extensive use of clips has become widespread enough no one's crazy or stupid enough (knock on wood) to try to force that genie back in the bottle at gunpoint.

  31. Pat_Pending

    Is it time to find a mimeograph machine in storage somewhere? I miss the purple ink of my childhood…

  32. gurukalehuru

    There are many people in Hollywood and in the music industry I admire greatly, but I'm not worried about their financial interests.
    If movie stars only got a couple hundred grand per flick instead of millions, there would still be plenty of actors to make movies. If rock stars had to do live performances to make a living, there would still be rock stars.

    This is a fucking fascist bill. No snark.

  33. Come here a minute

    This will turn using comments on RedState for posting links to pirate movie sites into the new WARBLOGGING.

  34. DerrickWildcat

    I think this is a pretty good idea because once after I broke up with my girlfriend she got mad and started posting bad things about me (like how I can't keep a secret. This is totally untrue) on some websites like Ford, Sears, Sony, Con-Agra, Schwinn and The Furniture Mart. Now, if she starts doing it again, I can call the Government and have them shut down those websites for having bad things about me.

  35. WeHaveIssues

    The third world system of just outright bribe the person you want to do something for you is looking better every day compared to this lobbying-corporate bought politicians-doing it for the protection of _______ (fill in blank) bullshit "democracy" gone bad.

  36. io9k9s

    Most disturbing is that Biden's position on teh internets doesn't align ideologically with his recent decision to change the technological framework of his facial structures – yeesh…what a shanda…

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