New legislation is currently being passed around the hill with the intent of preventing online piracy of copyrighted material.
Like many pieces of legislation it has surely been crafted with the greatest of ideals and goals. Currently there are 2 versions.
- Expand the jurisdiction for domain seizure – meaning a web-site could be taken down for hosting or linking to copyrighted material.
- Implement Deep Bit Monitoring – meaning EVERYTHING you access on the web will be monitored and scanned for potential copyright material.
1. The intent is clear, prevent sites like thepiratebay
. The trick is in the wording and checks and balance method of the US government, where congress creates the laws and the courts decide how they are enforced. So with the potential law being written to stop any site that HOSTS or LINKS to copyrighted material, this could be applied to any web-site based on automation and/or community ie: Google / Facebook / Wikipedia / Twitter / etc… By the letter of the current House of Representatives version of the bill any of those sites could be taken down permanently if enough links to copyrighted material were found posted by users or picked up by Googlebot.
2. The Senate version has one provision that would allow “Deep Packet Inspection” which opens up a warehouse of privacy concerns, and if passed would force ISPs across the country to rebuild their architecture. On the Privacy end everything you do/view/write online would be monitored closely, with logs so that IF you view copyrighted material then your access would be blocked by your ISP, or modifying the sites you view;
“Cutting off funding or access to only the illegal part of the site while leaving the rest of the site intact promotes legitimate expression.”
On the privacy side, this is similar to the approach used by the Great Firewall of China. Let alone creating logs of everything you (your connection) do (does) online. We live in a time when Thomas Jefferson
is being left out of text books, and legislation may be put into place to force your ISP to filter what you are able to view online. The word choice of force is not an accident, the compliance for this issue would require that your ISP monitor your actions in detail, creating a wide range of technical hurdles for the internet to remain in compliance. Under current law, any web-site can rely on copyright holders to bring offending material to its attention. China reportedly requires an internet police force of 30,000 for its censorship efforts, which meet with only partial success.
The long story short is that this legislation which is surely being drafted with the best of intent contains within it a technical pandora’s box that will prevent innovation as any new or existing community based web-site will be forced to actively monitor all activity to prevent copyrighted material from appearing on site. Neglecting to do so with the most advanced (and likely most expensive) technology available could put them at risk of being held for non-compliance.
Further details are available via soon to be banned Wikipedia
I’m curious what your thoughts are?