Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged SOPA

If you don’t like swear words, skip the video. The creator’s heart is in the right place, but his presentation needs some help if people are going to pay any serious attention to him.

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More at Techdirt and the Washington Post.

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From Techdirt:

It’s January 18th, 2013, and that’s a day worthy of note: the one year anniversary of the widespread protests against SOPA and PIPA. Not only did the massive reaction from the internet community succeed in stopping these dangerous bills that would have curtailed free speech and innovation online, the protests sent shockwaves through the world of politics. In a true manifestation of democracy, the combined voice of the people overruled the lobbyists and backroom dealers who, only weeks before, were smugly assured of the new law’s passage.

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Many people do not think twice about “liking” their friends’ posts on Facebook. Consenting adults engage in cybersex regularly. Millions more look at legitimate, legal pornography every day. Still more feel free to criticize many things on the internet, ranging from a dislike of a certain celebrity to politics. If you do any of these things in the Philippines, you now risk being sent to jail for it.

On Sept. 12, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which defines several new acts of crimes committed online, including, among others, “cybersex,” identity theft, hacking, spamming, and pornography.

“If you click ‘like,’ you can be sued, and if you share, you can also be sued,” said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, one of the lawmakers who voted against the passage of the law.

“Even Mark Zuckerberg can be charged with cyber-libel,” the senator said.

The provision, according to Guingona, is so broad and vague that it’s not even clear who should be liable for a given statement online. And if you’re found guilty, get ready to spend up to 12 years in prison.

“Who is liable? It isn’t clear. The one who made the original post? The ones who share? The ones who tweet? Even you, if you post a simple, ‘hehehe,’ right? Does that mean you agree?” Guingona said.

Many Filipinos are ignoring the new law and going online to protest and criticize the government for its actions. Those opposed to the law say that it threatens free speech online. In response, several hackers have also defaced government websites while others have filed petitions in the supreme court to have the law overturned. There are also those who voted for the law that are now having second thoughts.

At least one senator who voted for the law, Francis Escudero, has acknowledged having glossed over the controversial provision and said it was a mistake.

As with politics in every country, the libel section was added at the last minute. Vicente Sotto III, who added the section because he doesn’t want people questioning his behavior.

“Yes, I did it. I inserted the provision on libel. Because I believe in it and I don’t think there’s any additional harm,” Sotto was quoted as saying in the local news website Interaksyon.com.

Little surprise there, though. Sotto may actually have an axe to grind with the Filipino online community after coming under fire for allegedly plagiarizing an American blogger and the late Sen. Robert Kennedy for his speeches against a controversial family planning and reproductive health bill.

While the government has said that they condemn the hacking of their websites, they welcome any protest done in the proper forum. The problem is they’ve restricted free speech with this law, so where is one to legally protest and who says what forum is proper?

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There is a difference between theft and copyright infringement. Until the politicians learn the difference, there isn’t going to be much compromise between individuals and the MPAA/RIAA backed politicians.

In January 2012, two controversial pieces of legislation were making their way through the US Congress. SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, were meant to crack down on the illegal sharing of digital media. The bills were drafted on request of the content industry, Hollywood studios and major record labels.

The online community rose up against the US government to speak out against SOPA, and the anti-online piracy bill was effectively killed off after the largest online protest in US history. But it was only one win in a long battle between US authorities and online users over internet regulation. SOPA and PIPA were just the latest in a long line of anti-piracy legislation US politicians have passed since the 1990s.

“One of the things we are seeing which is a by-product of the digital age is, frankly, it’s much easier to steal and to profit from the hard work of others,” says Michael O’Leary, the executive vice-president for global policy at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The US government says it must be able to fight against piracy and cyber attacks. And that means imposing more restrictions online. But proposed legislation could seriously curb freedom of speech and privacy, threatening the internet as we know it.

Can and should the internet be controlled? Who gets that power? How far will the US government go to gain power over the web? And will this mean the end of a free and global internet?

Fault Lines looks at the fight for control of the web, life in the digital age and the threat to cyber freedom, asking if US authorities are increasingly trying to regulate user freedoms in the name of national and economic security.

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