Quis Custodiet? Stop Censorship!

The co-called “Protect IP” act is not designed for your protection.

It is designed to protect rich entertainment media companies…and to give more censorship power to government and corporate entities.

Remember the “Patriot” act? The jokers who draft these kinds of legislation are getting clever at giving them warm fuzzy names. Was the Patriot act designed to help us be more patriotic? Don’t kid yourself. It used the excuse of 911 to make it easier for Big Brother to spy on US citizens.

Now they’re at it again. The Protect IP act is not designed to protect any Internet Protocol; the initials IP in the name of the bill stand for Intellectual Property.

But that’s good, right? When someone creates a book, song, film, play, whatever, we should protect their ownership of it and their right to earn money from it, right?

We already have something for that, called international copyright law.

So why do we need Protect IP? We don’t. Who does? Apparently, the entertainment industry feels it is not making enough money, and thinks it deserves special protection.  Apparently, making huge profits ever since they discovered they could sell scratches on plastic and call them “records” somehow isn’t enough.  It really bugs these media moguls that a kid in Springfield (or halfway around the word) can download a pirated copy of the latest music video without tossing $20 on top of the treasure horde these media corporations have amassed.

Yes, they will whine about “lost sales” or try to claim that pirated material forces them to charge you even more for recordings. They’ll claim they are “job creators” and urge you to support their latest grab for your money and your freedom.

But what stinks most about Protect IP is not its stated intentions. What it seeks is no less than endorsing the censorship of the Internet by government and corporate interests. Right now, the Internet and its free exchange of ideas and information are fueling a drive for democracy and independent thought all over the world.  None of that would be happening if the Internet was merely the information apparatus of government and big business.

Consider what happened to Television. Deciding that we needed to keep the number of stations limited to avoid crowding the airwaves, we established the FCC to watch over radio and television. And what has been the result? TV stations are all owned by large corporations and mainly used to sell advertising for corporate sponsors. All those TV shows, good and bad? They are a loss leader — what the store puts in the display window to get you to come in and spend your money there.

Is this what we want for the global information network? For it to be owned by governments and large corporations so they can use it only to promote the status quo and sell us more products?

No! The Internet was created to share information. Yes, some of that information will be commercial; hard to avoid that in any human endeavor. But don’t we want it to be a tool of freedom — not tyranny?

The Protect IP act is an invitation to tyranny. Giving ANYONE the power to shut down a website because you don’t like its content (or to force ISPs to route traffic around it) is a violation of the original purpose of the Net; to share information. When you walk into a bookstore, you will probably be able to find books or magazines you don’t like. Does this mean you should have the right to make the cops close down the bookstore? After all, if you don’t want to be offended by the contents of a book, all you have to do is *not* *read* *it*. This is why we do not burn books in America. We just read the ones we like.

Ideas should be able to stand on their own. They don’t need help. If something is true and useful, people will share it. If not, they will ignore it. There is a intellectual Darwinism that usually ensures that liars and fakers will be found out and abandoned.

Have you heard the saying “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodies“? It’s Latin for “who will watch the Watchers?”.  It is the quintessential reminder that entrusting too much power to overseers is something we should always avoid. Yes, we can train a cop, give him weapons to defend himself, and tell him to defend the helpless and watch over the greedy. But who will watch him?  Cops are human too.  So he has a supervisor.

While less than 1% of Americans are millionaires, over 50% of members of Congress are millionaires.  Our only check on them is not re-electing them in a few years. Do you want them to supervise our Internet?

Leggo my Eggo, Congress! Stop grabbing for censorship!

The Protect IP act might come up for a vote this week. Add your name to those Senator Wyden plans to read in filibustering this obscene bill.


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6 Responses to “Quis Custodiet? Stop Censorship!”

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