Hearings began on Wednesday in the House of Representatives to debate a law, one that will allow the government to censor the Internet. By listening to only one of six witnesses, the House was able to avoid hearing of the dangers of Internet censorship.
According to the Huffington Post, the House supports legislature that will criminalize the majority of Internet activity. The Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) is intent on establishing new major corporate powers that will gather all copyright materials. At the same time, the Senate has an Internet bill being drafted---PROTECT IP Act---that will require Internet service providers to remove URLs from the web. The legislature if passed will cause legal bills of mass proportions for Silicon Valley major Internet corporations and start-up companies.
Both political parties -- flush with campaign contributions from Hollywood studios and trial lawyers -- are eager to pass the legislation. The Senate version, introduced in May, has broad support, but has been held up by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Without Wyden's hold, the legislation looks certain to pass by a landslide. The House version, introduced last month, was written by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.).
Online giants feel SOPA will lead to Internet censorship similar to that in Iran, perverted to censor the entire Internet instead of protecting the rights of film companies and music labels. NY Daily News says that major companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, AOL and eBay support the bill's stated goals, but sent an open letter send to the committee, "Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities."
The government law will affect search engines, requiring them to remove websites from their searches if a website has violated copyright laws by "illegally distributing protected material." The bill will grant the U.S.Justice Department the right to remove international operated websites.
“As written, they would betray more than a decade of U.S. policy and advocacy of Internet freedom by establishing a censorship system using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran,” Tumblr said in a statement.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, a message was emailed to me by Demand for Progress regarding the bill in Congress :
Nobody thought it could be done, but it looks like we've turned the tide against the Internet Blacklist Bill. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi just spoke out against it, and Republican Darrell Issa says it now stands "no chance of passage"! (We Are Winning: Pelosi Comes Out Against Internet Censorship Bill)