Internet regulation bills propose drastic changes

Internet regulation bills propose drastic changes

A group protests the recent internet regulation bills circulating the globe. The OPEN Act and ACTA are among the bills that will propose drastic changes to the way the Internet is run.

Adam Kuester, News Editor

The Internet censorship and regulation bills just keep coming.

First, there was the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), then SOPA, and now, two new Internet regulation acts, the OPEN Act and the ACTA. With all these new bills, life on the Internet may change forever.

The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act) differs from SOPA in that OPEN seeks to stop transfers of money to foreign websites whose primary purpose is piracy or counterfeiting, whereas SOPA and PIPA also seek to require Internet providers and search engines to redirect users away from viewing the sites.

The OPEN Act also differs from SOPA and PIPA, in that the latter two more directly target social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Sophomore Casey Reil sees the bill as another attempt at censorship. “Just the idea that the government thinks that they can censor the Internet infuriates me, mostly because it’s in complete violation of the first amendment,” Reil said.

Junior Alex Schroeder thinks the changes to the OPEN Act aren’t sufficient. “I’m against the OPEN Act because, in my opinion, it is the same thing as SOPA, but with a different name,” Schroeder said.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden introduced the OPEN Act to the Senate on Dec. 17. California Representative Darrell Issa introduced the bill to the House of Representatives with 25 co-sponsors on Jan. 18.

According to Businessweek, web companies such as Google and Facebook back up the OPEN Act, while SOPA and PIPA are backed by the music and movie industries.

In addition, the proponents of the bill are open to comments concerning the bill. On their website keepthewebopen.com, people can read the draft themselves and propose amendments to improve the draft language.

According to PCMag’s website, the OPEN Act would allow the International Trade Commission
(ITC) to cut off funding to sites found to be trafficking counterfeit goods, “from purses and prescription drugs to DVDs and MP3s.”

Director of Technology Greg Russell declined to comment regarding the bill.

ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a multinational trade agreement. The agreement was signed on Oct. 1 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.

In Jan., the European Union and 22 of its member states signed as well, bringing the total to 31 signatories. According to the European Commission, ACTA would “help countries work together to tackle more effectively Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) infringements.”

After ratification, a new governing body would be created outside existing forums to target counterfeit goods and copyright infringement on the Internet.

People found with infringing content on their device (laptop, iPod, etc.) would be subject to a fine. They may also have their device confiscated or destroyed, according to the ACTA bill.

According to Access Now’s website, “ACTA aims to make Internet service and access providers legally responsible for what their users do online, turning them into private copyright police and judge, censoring their networks. The chilling effects on free speech would be terrible.”

ACTA also proposes new sanctions that would require Internet service providers to hand over personal information of alleged copyright infringers.

Schroeder is opposed to both the OPEN Act and ACTA. “Both infringe on the rights granted by the first amendment,” Schroeder said.

Reil thinks that by allowing such bills to be passed, the US government is violating constitutional rights. “The US government is supposed to protect people’s rights, not infringe upon them. They’re supposed to protect our rights, especially freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, especially on the Internet, is a huge part of our society today, and I completely disagree with censoring and controlling what can be said on the Internet,” Reil said.

Adam Kuester is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.