SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET?

First they came for the lottery games..
I was silent as I do not play…

Then they came for sites that criticised government policies…
At that point I was FORCED to be silent.

locked-computer

Will the Justice Department Be Authorized to Shut Down Internet Sites?

by Rich Muny

On September 20th, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation — S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act — that seeks to give the Department of Justice the power to shut down websites anywhere in the world that are found to infringe on intellectual property rights.  This would be accomplished by ordering U.S. domain registrars and registries to stop resolving infringing sites’ domain names.  While this bill has the noble-sounding goal of preventing online piracy, handing the federal government authority over the Internet would set a troubling precedent that would imperil Internet freedom in America and across the world.

One disquieting issue is the lack of any requirement that these sites be found to violate the laws of the countries from where they operate.  In fact, under this bill sites operating perfectly legally under the laws of their own nations could be shut down by the U.S. Justice Department.

The concept that domain names of Internet sites operating legally in their home nations could be shut down by other nations for violation of their laws is one that should concern everyone.  For example, a few years ago a French court ordered Yahoo.com to block French citizens from accessing portions of the site deemed to contain content unlawful under French law. Yahoo.com resisted this demand, citing free speech issues. What if French courts had the capability to shut down the domain www.yahoo.com to force compliance with that decision?  What if every nation had the right to shut down Internet domains to force the entire Internet to comply with their local laws?  If the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act passes, a very dangerous precedent will be set.

Additionally, there is a threat that this power will be expanded well beyond piracy.  In fact, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) is already in court seeking seizure of the domain names of 141 Internet poker and gaming websites — none based in the Commonwealth of Kentucky — with claims that these sites compete with the state lottery and with the horse racing industry.

The likelihood of this effort expanding well beyond issues of online piracy is simply too great.  The Department of Justice should use its already ample tools and not resort to censoring the Internet.

Source via Uruknet

7 Comments

  1. kruitvat said,

    October 1, 2010 at 11:58

    I was referring to your article on the page of Facebook group ‘Helen Thomas’, a group occupied by the so called Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF), a neo-nazist association related to the far right party of the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman.

    SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET?
    First they came for the lottery games..I was silent as I do not play…
    Then they came for sites that criticised government policies…At that point I was FORCED to be silent.
    October 1, 2010

    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/

    (Failed to upload photo. There was a problem with the image file.)

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Thomas/25200843917

  2. kruitvat said,

    October 1, 2010 at 12:02

    I was referring to your article on the Facebook group ‘Helen Thomas’, a group which is occupied by the so called Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF).
    The JIDF is a neo-nazist association related to the far right party of the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman.
    In 2007 she formed the group “Palestine Is not a country … Delist it from Facebook as a country!”, which petitioned Facebook management to remove Palestine from Facebook’s list of countries.
    Matt Hicks of Facebook responded by saying: “As long as the groups meet our terms of use, they can stay up”.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Thomas/25200843917

  3. October 1, 2010 at 22:14

    [...] SHUTTING DOWN THE INTERNET? Tags: [...]

  4. Karmakaze said,

    October 1, 2010 at 23:15

    No one can shut down the internet.

    The best the American government can do is shut down American’s access to the internet. The rest of us will just ignore your stupid law, just like we ignored the DMCA.

    “This would be accomplished by ordering U.S. domain registrars and registries to stop resolving infringing sites’ domain names.”

    All you have to do is set your network setting to point at a non-US domain registrar.

  5. Karmakaze said,

    October 1, 2010 at 23:28

    Every computer on the internet has a number called an IP address. That is it’s unique identifier. DNS allows you to relate certain human readable phrases to an IP address. Any number of domain names can point at the same IP address. Deleting a domain name from the registry doesn’t block the IP address of the site in question, or block your access to it, all it does is prevent you using a human readable URL to access the site rather than an obscure number.

    When you try to access a web site using a domain name, your computer connects to your ISP’s domain name server and requests the IP address. If your ISP’s DNS server knows it, it passes it back to your computer. If it doesn’t, it tries asking another DNS server called a root server. Every nation has their own root servers. At the top of the chain are several root servers in the US, that point to all the other root servers, which in turn point to the ISP’s DNS servers where the information is actually stored.

    So blocking the root server in the US wouldn’t block DNS. Not globally. At least not for long. Anybody from outside the US would still see everything the US is trying to block, as long as they don’t rely on the US servers.

    So to reiterate, the ONLY thing this law can do is make it slightly harder for you to get to those sites. It can’t actually block them.

    At the very least you can browse the web using IP addresses instead of domain names.

  6. Karmakaze said,

    October 1, 2010 at 23:31

    Your OS has a file that acts like a local domain name server. The HOSTS file is simply a list of domain names pointing at IP addresses. You can make them anything you want, you can even redirect real domain names to any ip address you want.

    This is because the very first thing your computer does when it tries to convert a domain name into an IP address is it looks at the HOSTS file. If it finds an entry that matches, that is what it uses without ever doing a DNS lookup.

    So Americans could pass around HOSTS file entries to each other and this law would have no effect on them at all.

  7. B said,

    October 2, 2010 at 03:55

    This bill has been sidelined, for the moment.


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