Happy new year. I can haz your liberties? Sure NDAA!
HAPPY 2012, and what a start to the year it is. On Dec 31st, 2011, Barack Obama signed into law the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), while the NDAA is signed into effect each year, this last installment makes it extra special, making the writ of habeas corpus voidable by the president of the United States, as is revocation of the 6th Amendment at his will. For those not privy to the US Constitution this is the right to counsel.
The bill was passed in the scope of fighting the “War on Terror” and by removing habeas corpus and the 6th amendment allows for the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial, and authorizes the military to indefinitely detain even US citizens under the provisions provided in the bill. The wording is super vague, so it could be argued either pro or con, but should never have been there in the first place.
So there we have it, Jan 1st, 2012, and I, at least in theoretical significance, can call the FBI and say that my neighbor John Doe is planning a terrorist attack, he gets swept up, and without due process gets interrogated, and psychologically tortured until he is forced to confess that he’s collaborating with one of his other neighbors. Far fetched? You would think so, but the same tactics were in employ by the East German Stasi, and the NKVD and later KGB – mind you this was less than 25 years ago, and if you think it can’t happen in the U.S. think again.
We killed the 6th Amendment, now let’s trim the 1st. Great, here’s SOPA & PIPA.
FROM THE 1ST Constitutional Amendment, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press“, yet congress is right now doing exactly that.
Under the guise of protecting intellectual property the house and senate are bilaterally putting forth two pieces of legislation that would give the government the power to block foreign websites from viewership by the US populace, the infringement could be something as small as linking to a website that links to the pirate bay, i.e. the New York Times links to the Guardian, and since the Guardian has linked to the Pirate Bay, it can then be blocked by the Feds from viewing by the American public.
If an international forum post a copyright picture, it can be blocked, and if you here in the US post a copyright picture you could very well be criminalized for it, or even for posting a video of your kids singing a song. The reason being that the law, in the way it was written, is vague and open for interpretation.
Either of the laws would undermine the openness and free exchange of information on at the heart of the internet, it would set an international precedent that censoring information that a government finds incorrect or offensive is wholly allowed and most of what will happen under these laws will happen without the possibility of holding anyone accountable for their enforcement.
Ironically, the bills, which claim that they’re supposed to target “Pirate Websites” and protect IP would do little to stifle these efforts.
Time and again, we have seen companies bring to court service providers on grounds of fostering copyright infringement. There was Napster, that led to other P2P networks such as Kazaa, then they tried to close Kazaa because it was centralized, so they decentralized it, then Torrents came about and sites like Demonoid and Pirate Bay popped up, so say they block the te DNS of these sites. They’ll simply reassign, and be back up within minutes, and say they keep this process up indefinitely, then those people who pirate software will simply move to the Tor network, or identify other deep web channels to infringe on copyrights.
The thing is that these actions do not work, they never will. Government has to realize that the internet is smarter than it is, multinationals have to realize that the internet is smarter than they are. Hundreds of millions of dollars if not more are spent on software copyright protection annually, and yet it takes the cracking group a day to break the protection and seed it as a torrent.
Wouldn’t that money be better spent investing in education and technologies that innovate the industry, bring costs down, and revenues up? I sure thing so, just look at Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, iTunes, all products that adversely affect IP infringement, yet bring costs down, create jobs, and drive revenues.
Before closing this out, there are two last points that I would like to make.
The White House issues a statement last saturday, 14th of January, that it does not support inhibiting freedom of speech. The White House also said it did not support the aforementioned NDAA provisions.
We now talk about copyright infringement as theft, it is not. Dowling v. United States (1985) has already set the precedent for what copyright infringement is. And isn’t it amusing that back in 1985 you could listen to the radio, tape songs, make mixes, give them to friends, they would do the same, or film a movie onto a VHS, and no one gave a rats ass, yet now you download one song and you’re slapped with a $2000 fine while these same companies who turned a blind eye 20 years ago now blame piracy for their own misguided vision, inability to innovate and poor product.
IN SUMMATION We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity are quite frankly fed up with the current state of affairs in Washington.