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Stop Online Piracy Act threatens human rights activists: digital rights group

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Human rights activists and whistle blowers could be “major casualties” of a copyright protection bill proposed by the House Judiciary Committee in late October, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would make it easier for U.S. authorities to crack down on websites accused of pirating movies, television shows and music. It would allow the government and copyright owners to disable the credit card processors of sites they claim “engages in, enables or facilitates” copyright infringement.

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It would also require Internet service providers to “take technically feasible and reasonable measures” to block “rogue” sites from their customers.

The legislation is so broad it could be used to target online anonymity tools used by human rights activists, according to the EFF. The software Tor, for instance, which has been used to protect activists in Tunisia and Egypt, could be targeted because it can be used to hide one’s IP address when illegally downloading copyrighted content.

Corporations could also use SOPA to force companies to stop processing donations to whistle blower sites that post any documents that are copyrightable or contain trade secrets.

“It’s unclear whether SOPA’s authors intended it to cover these websites that are vital to whistleblowing and human rights,” Trevor Timm of the EFF said. “If they didn’t, they need to press re-set; and next time, consult with the numerous Internet communities the bill could affect, rather than exclusively Hollywood lobbyists.”

The legislation is a companion bill to the controversial PROTECT IP Act, which is currently stuck in the Senate after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) placed a hold on the bill in May.

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“I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective,” Wyden said in a statement.

Both bills are supported by businesses and organizations across the political spectrum, from labor unions to the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, to the National Association of Broadcasters and the cable industry.

In a letter to members of Congress, the powerful Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetCoalition described SOPA as a “litigation and liability nightmare for Internet and technology companies and social media.”

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Two impeachment articles expected against President Trump: reports

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Democrats are expected to announce on Tuesday two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, US media reported Monday evening, after laying out their case at a hearing against a president they branded a "clear and present danger" to national security.

The articles will focus on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, The Washington Post said, citing three official familiar with the matter.

It added that the full House of Representatives would vote on the articles next week, ahead of a trial in the Senate.

CNN said a third article on obstruction of justice was still being debated, and the network's sources cautioned that plans were still being finalized.

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Ambassador McFaul ‘shocked’ Trump invited Sergey Lavrov back to the Oval Office: ‘What are they thinking?’

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Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul repeatedly said he was shocked that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

McFaul was interviewed Monday evening by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC "The Last Word," where he contrasted how Trump is treating the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to the Ukrainian government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Ambassador McFaul, I want to get your reaction to the Russian foreign minister meeting tomorrow at the White House, in the Oval Office, with President Trump," O'Donnell said. "That's his second time. President Zelinsky still hasn't gotten that meeting and Donald trump apparently, apparently may be voted articles of impeachment in committee this week because of his interactions with President Zelensky."

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House Judiciary to vote on Thursday to impeach Donald Trump: report

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Democrats are moving ahead with the impeachment of President Donald Trump following another day of testimony on Monday.

"House Democrats plan to unveil at least two articles of impeachment Tuesday, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles on Thursday, setting up a vote on the House floor next week to make Trump the third president in history to be impeached," Politico reported Monday evening.

"Democratic leaders plan to formally announce the articles at a press conference Tuesday morning. Judiciary Committee Democrats intend to meet ahead of the announcement and review the articles," Politico reported. "The decision to move forward with specific impeachment charges is the most significant move yet for the year-old Democratic House majority, a legacy-defining moment for Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sets up a Senate trial for Trump in early 2020."

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