Congress prepares repressive Internet legislation

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­While some lawmakers are leaning towards a legislation that would cripple the internet and give the government the power to wipe websites offline, a group of professors have penned a letter to Congress protesting the proposed Protect IP Act.

The letter comes from three “law professors who teach and write about intellectual property law” and urges Congress to reject the Act, which is currently on hold in the Senate after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) put a freeze on it back in May.

The Protect IP Act, if approved, would give the government the power to take websites offline and censor search engines after copyright infringement claims are made by the content in question’s actual owner. Last month screenwriters stood up for the bill, speaking in front of Congress about what the passing would mean to them.

"There's a popular misconception that when you steal content, you’re only stealing from rich corporations who don’t need the money," said Gina Gionfriddo, a television writer and member of the Writers Guild of America. "But Internet piracy really takes income out of my pocket, out of the pockets of actors, writers, directors and technicians who create these programs."

The attorneys that wrote a letter last week object, however, and say that, “although the problems the Act attempts to address . . . are serious ones presenting new and difficult enforcement challenges, the approach taken . . . has grave constitutional infirmities, potentially dangerous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system and will undermine Unites States foreign policy and strong support of free expression on the Internet around the world.”

"At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, the [Protect IP Act] would incorporate into U.S. law – for the first time – a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law."

The lawyers add that the Act would threaten the security of the Internet at large and would damage web sites worldwide, not to mention challenge the already-existing Internet freedom in America but also the First Amendment.