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Don’t Let Congress Censor the Internet

Some of the worst legislation we’ve ever seen when it comes to digital rights has been put before Congress this session.  Three pieces of legislation, H.R. 3261 in the House of Representatives and S. 968 and S. 978 in the Senate, would cripple the internet by stripping your due process rights and making everyday users wary that the next thing you post might get you sued or thrown in jail.  Here’s what the legislation does:

  • It strips current laws by now making internet companies, which used to be immune, liable for their users’ communications.  This means that Facebook, Youtube, Wordpress, Google and more are now on the hook for what you post.

  • It gives the US Attorney General, with court order, the power to seize websites that possibly infringe or partially infringe copyright.  There would be no due process and no chance to defend yourself before the seizure.  The mere accusation can get a website taken away.

  • It violates Net Neutrality by ordering internet providers, advertising companies and payment systems to block accused websites with technology that just doesn’t exist.

  • It threatens users by imposing fines or jail time for posting even derivatives of copywrited work(s).  A video of your karaoke, playing the piano, video game speed trial would now all be punishable if a copyright holder decides to enforce it.

We’ve already seen I.C.E. overreact when seizing websites and copyright holders suing over the most minor infractions.  This legislation is vague, overly broad and under inclusive, violates due process, there are already existing laws on this subject and this creates a chilling effect on free speech by creating black lists and making everyday users think twice about what we post.

Both S. 968 and H.R. 3261 have been shelved, for now, in both the House of Representatives and Senate.  The issues they attempt to solve are still being debated.  Take action now and let your Member of Congress and your Senators know you don't support the legislation and neither should they.