I recently wrote to California's 36th District Respresentative, Congresswoman Janice Hahn regarding my thought's on SOPA. Her response below:
Dear Arthur Iinuma,
Thank you for contacting me to voice your opposition to H.R. 3261, “Stop Online Piracy Act.” I am honored to represent you, and I appreciate your active participation in the legislative process. Your involvement makes democracy work better by helping me more effectively represent you and California’s 36th District.
To ensure the growth of technological innovation in the United States, it is essential that we protect the rights of artists and innovators from online thieves who prosper by stealing their work. At the same time, any proposed legislation targeting online piracy must be balanced to avoid overreaching that could result in censoring the Internet and hinder the ability of our most innovative companies from competing and creating new jobs in America. For this reason, I recently announced that I will not support H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” If this or similar legislation comes to the House Floor for a vote, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Hearing from the people I serve is vital to doing my job right. Thanks again for taking the time to share your concerns and I hope you will keep in touch with me on this or any other issue you feel important. To stay informed of my work or to sign up for my electronic newsletter, please visit my website at http://Hahn.House.gov. Or, you can always call my office in San Pedro at (310) 831-1799 or my office in Washington, D.C. toll-free at (855) 328-7332.
Member of Congress
For those that need some additional insight, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a proposed United States bill that allows U.S. law enforcement to conduct specific policing activities in an effort to prevent the promotion of copyrighted intellectual property infringement. While at first glance, the bill seems to be with merit, the implications of allowing the government to step in and conduct such "law enforcement" activities are far reaching.
An example of some of the allowed measures:
- Block entire internet domains as a result of infringing material posted on a single blog or webspace
- Prevent search engines and websites from indexing and/or linking to certain sites
- Allowing for the issuance of court orders requiring Internet Service Providers to block access to certain sites
- Allowing for the issuance of court orders to prevent ad networks and payment gateways from conducting business with certain sites
The large part of the problem is not simply the depth of enforcement allowed, but the broadness of definition for what law enforcement can reasonably act upon. For a country praised for it's openness and expression of freedom, the bill is a landmark effort to allow large-scale enforcement of censorship across the internet. There are also questions of effectiveness (new websites can be created in relatively short periods of time), effect on current "safe harbor" protections, technical constraints (the analysis of millions of pieces of new content being submitted to the larger content sites such as Google, YouTube, or Facebook), and the potential for negative impact of commerce and community (legitimate sites that were adquately or fairly screened; the required financial resources to enact policing of such sites).
Although I do not condone the distribution of copyrighted material, I also do not believe that SOPA or closely related PIPA (at least in their current form) are the best implementations of legislature for addressing this issue. Some time needs to be spent by congress to rework the bill, or perhaps draft an alternate (i.e. OPEN Act) before support by the internet community can be expected.
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