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Tech Heavyweights Decry Government Meddling With Internet

December 15, 2011 by  

Tech Heavyweights Decry Government Meddling With Internet

Several high-profile names in the tech industry are on the offensive against two online piracy bills in Congress that would give the government vast new power to censor content on the Web.

The technological innovators — including Google’s Sergey Brin, eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington — blast the bills in full-page ads expected to run in the coming days in The New York Times and The Washington Post and other publications, according to POLITICO.

The ads, which include a copy of an open letter to Congress that was sent late Tuesday, charges that the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act in the House would “deny website owners the right to due process” and hand “the U.S. government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.” The members of the tech community also say that the government risks undermining online security by changing the basic structure of the Internet.

The letter was signed by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake, PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Twitter’s co-founders Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams among others.

One lawmaker aid said that the executives’ arguments are inaccurate simply because PROTECT IP Act in the Senate would not be sponsored by 41 Senators if their claims were true.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Robert Smith

    The purpose of the anti-piracy act is to stop the stealing of intellectual and performance property of entertainers and educators.

    Why is anyone in favor of stealing? China is a haven for pirates. They don’t control them over there. Pirates are a different issue than censorship.

    Sink pirates.


    • Dave

      Are we sure there isn’t some other verbage buried away to have other control over the internet?

    • Dan

      Rob is you own a website that has Google ads and one of those ads happens to be an advert for a site that has counterfeit goods then you site can be shut down as well as the counterfeit site. There are also a lot of other sites that promote advertisement sharing and it would apply in that case also. Note: an web site has little control over what ads are places on their site if they participate in google advertising.

      • Robert Smith

        From Dan: “Note: an web site has little control over what ads are places on their site if they participate in google advertising.”

        Really? NO control? They TAKE MONEY for those ads. They don’t go out for free. Control is as simple as saying, “You are unrightully selling material that doesn’t belong to you.”

        It’s that they are making a huge amount of money from the stealing of material with a copyrite that they are reluctant to give it up. Google needs to take responsibility for their part in the selling of stolen property.

        Sink pirates. It’s that simple.


        • John in CA

          Robert, you don’t get it. The ads you see online are ‘served’ by various ad services. Website owners and advertisers contract with these services, and payment is determined by the number of click throughs. Ever notice that on most pages, the ads reload and change? The website owner has little control over the ads served. The only thing owners can do to protect themselves is to stop allowing advertising, in fact stop allowing any third party to post material or links on their sites. Say goodbye to Youtube, Popmodal, Yahoo, Google and all other search engines, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, WND, Personal Liberty, etc.

          I read the bill. There is no mechanism for due process. An accusation is made, and the government pulls down your site. End of story. No hearing, no trial, no evidence required. Poof, your site is gone. If this passes, in a very short time the Internet will consist of nothing more than a few corporate commercial sites, the MSM, and government pages. The only private sites will be those who’s owners have the “correct” political affiliations and deep enough pockets to stay online without advertising income.

          Nobody here is in favor of piracy, but really, Robert, how much more freedom do you think we need to surrender in the name of safety?

          I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it now. As long as we, the people do not own ALL of the equipment upon which the Internet depends for its existence, as long as Big Government/Big Business controls the choke points, it will eventually be taxed and regulated into oblivion. Check out the Meshnet project discussions at

          • libertytrain

            Nicely said John, most people, even those that think they are more intelligent than everyone else, are not knowledgeable on how Web advertising works…

          • independant thinker

            Exactly libertytrain from his previous postings on this subject I am of the impression he wants total government control of the internet.

    • 2centsworth

      You don’t need the f*%#@g govt. sticking their business into the public internet and shutting down websites. If the person that has their material copyrighted sees that it is taken for another site, then let them handle it with the siteowner 1st by asking them to take it off their website, and 2nd if they don’t take it off, then sue them in court. (Oh yeah, the court system is crooked and bought off too) This is the smartest way to handle it. You don’t need the govt. stepping in, because they have alterior motives, and they are just using this to strangle the internet. Their evil crap is being exposed to readily on the internet, and the people also are waking up really fast, and they are already facing a hard time taking over the planet, because the people are becoming aware of what they are doing to them.

      • Robert Smith

        From 2: “You don’t need the f*%#@g govt. sticking their business into the public internet and shutting down websites. If the person that has their material copyrighted sees that it is taken for another site, then let them handle it with the siteowner 1st by asking them to take it off their website, and 2nd if they don’t take it off, then sue them in court.”

        Riiiiiiight! Next time your car is stolen or a bank is robbed tell me how that theory works.


        • chipshot

          I am struggling to see the connection.

          • independant thinker

            The only connection is in rob’s head.

        • Robert Smith

          On line piracy is stealing.

          It’s that simple.


    • Lastmanstanding

      “a closed mind is such a waste.”

      Rob…try to realize that everything is a risk these days.

      Risk…another 4 letter word that no one wants to hear.

      • Robert Smith

        What part of stealing don’t you understand?

        Intellectual property is valuable. The formula for Reardon Metal was an example of that used by Ayn Rand. When it was stolen it was stolen.


  • http://yahoo don

    is’nt controlling the internet like controlling freedom of speech.

    • Robert Smith

      Not when “free speech” is selling stolen goods.


      • ChristyK

        The thing you don’t understand is this bill eliminates due process. It will stop all websites (like this one) because some commenter might link to a site that has something pirated. This site, and possibly the person who posted the link, might not know the information is copyrighted. There will be no due process, which is guaranteed in our consitution. This bill, if executed as expected, will nullify the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th amendments.

        I agree we should protect intellectual property, but there are already laws & courts to do that. This bill might stop theft faster, but it will also stop free speech (which I believe is the real intent) and punish people/businesses that did not intend to publish stolen material. All websites that accept user content could realistically be shut down & punished if even one poster posts copyrighted material, even when many of the posters probably got the material 2nd/3rd/4th hand and didn’t realize they were posting something they shouldn’t.

        Stand up for the consitution and the rule of law. Stop tyrrany.

      • chipshot


        Just out of curiosity what examples do you actually know of where “stolen property” was sold on the internet??

        I am very suspicious of ANYTHING the government does, especially THIS government. Are you actually willing to allow a criminal like eric holder, the chief thief heading up the criminal branch of the obummer dept of injustice, to decide what you can read or say or where you can go on the internet?

        The more power we give the federal government, the less power we as individuals will have. Enuf already.

  • Altaica

    That’s how I see it.

    The way it is worded, even if you have an image cap with a comment about the show (Which is covered under fair use and not considered copyright infringement) you will be censored. Even the use of clips in videos that are critiquing a subject (Again covered under fair use guidelines) will become criminal. The law also holds content sharing sites like youtube, facebook, or any site where users can upload information or post links, etc accountable for what their users post. Further more, these companies would also be able to sue a user even if the inclusion of their copyrighted material is unintentional such as, say you make a video at a park and your video picks up someone’s radio. The owner of the song playing in the background, which you may not have even noticed can force you to remove your content and sue you for copyright infringement even though this was unintentional and you may not even have noticed it. In addition to this, if you are singing or playing a cover of a song you will also be held for copyright infringement. The way the bills are written leaves the door wide open for major amounts of abuse of power. Even wearing a licensed t-shirt with copyrighted material on it in a video could even be grounds for attack. The way these bills have been written it is clear they are meant to give Hollywood and the big business moguls control over what we do, what we say and how we express ourselves. I see it as a violation of our freedom of expression and speech. We have copyright laws already in place which does not turn most internet users into criminals. I urge you look up the bills for yourself and decide if they are something you would want to pass. I myself am opposed to both bills because they allow censorship far too easily. If you feel these bills do indeed allow too much control over the government I urge you to find one of the many petitions against these bills and sign them.

    • 2centsworth

      Thanks CO Tom, After following your advice, I found that this is the web address to go to for telling your representatives to vote NO. Your input does count! You are important! Go to this website NOW and tell your representatives to vote NO on this!

      • USAF VET

        A lot of good it does me to tell them to vote no. I’ve got Diane Franenfienstien, and Barbra the Boxer, along with the Socialist Democrat George Miller as my “Representative. I don’t know how many times I’ve written to them about their Unconstitutional voting habits, and I usually get a negative answer, if not their generic stock answer which tells me they didn’t even read my message.

  • http://personaliberty CO Tom

    How shallow of an argument from the aid. Doesn’t every gubment program start this way? Give an inch and they’ll take everything!

  • amarq

    …and Yahoo has already taken down its “comments” section on all news stories as a result of the overwelming support for Ron Paul…

  • alexa

    I’m certain all 41 senators read the entire bill. The sad story is that the bill is never what it claims to be.

    I full support stopping theft of intellectual property but not censorship. Laws and systems are already in place so I see no reason for the additional legislation.

    You can understand why would be against the bill. It would affect this website big time for offering the false advertising.

    • Michael

      Exactly where have you seen false advertising on this site? And doesn’t anybody on here besides me know how to enable spell check, or have access to a dictionary/thesaurus?

      • chipshot

        Spellcheck only works when you are speaking English to start with.

      • Robert Smith

        From Michael: “how to enable spell check”

        Is it available in the “comment” section where replies are typed?


  • Sandra Van Lankvelt

    In my opinion these proposed censorship bills are a total afront to opening the doors to other future controlling agenda’s that are NOT transparent to us “at this time” and probably for good reason. It sort of reminds me of the story of don’t worry about the fox in the hen house…since it already resides there illegally. Today is Dec. 15th a special day for a document that came into being 220 years ago called “The Bill of Rights”. I re-read it today and man it gave me on one hand tears of joy. Then on the other hand, especially in this day and age I realized how many of those “rights” we have lost without even noticing it. For too many years we have been in the dark about what is happening in D.C. and around the world. Now with instant infomation being given out to the masses through a vehicle called the “internet”…well according to some they just want to have an ON and OFF switch to quickly pull the plug from the truth. Go figure heh? So I for one am saying STOP these bills. I respect every soul that fought and died for my “Bill of Rights”. God Bless America.

  • joyce golden

    There is an underlying reason behind everything Congress and Prez do anything. Could this give them capability to shut down internet????

    • Sandra Van Lankvelt

      ABSOLUTELY “YES” joyce they could find a way to flip a switch to turn off the internet under the guise of lets pretend “martial law”?? or any other lame excuse. My opinion only, but even though my comment may seem way out there to some, but today??? well not so far out I presume.

    • USAF VET

      That is exactly what it is joyce. Obumski and Company have been trying to get this done for years. Pretty soon the internet here will be completely under Gov’t control like China, and a bunch of the other Socialist countries.

  • Lost in Paradise

    I truly believe this is just a way for them to get their foot in the door. If 51 senators support the bill, it is only because the internet is the only place that is free of government and truly free. It also allows us all to communicate in regards to government and its abuses. That is what this is really all about. THey have no control over the freedom of speach on the internet, and it intimidates them. It will also be the beginning of the end of the internet, if government gets in. THis will be the first of many pieced of legislation regarding the internet. Then there will be taxes, oh yes do not forget about taxation.

  • DH

    This continuing take over of all elements of American enterprise has to stop. More importantly, this administration simply has to stop compromising the privacy of business and citizens.

    They will continue to find new areas where they can tax, and spend, this administration considered a real professional at this.

    When is it going to stop?

  • r.p.

    If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Support the 1st. Ammendment and petition your government.

  • coal miner

    Another example of government meddling.

    Science News Early Research On Cellphone Conversations Likely Overestimated Crash Risk, Study Suggests
    ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2011) — A Wayne State University study published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Epidemiology points out that two influential early studies of cellphone use and crash risk may have overestimated the relative risk of conversation on cellphones while driving.
    Mobile phone radiation and health
    In this new study, Richard Young, Ph.D., professor of research in Wayne State University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in the School of Medicine, examined possible bias in a 1997 Canadian study and a 2005 Australian study. These earlier studies used cellphone billing records of people who had been in a crash and compared their cellphone use just before the crash to the same time period the day (or week) before — the control window.

    Young said the issue with these studies is that people may not have been driving during the entire control window period, as assumed by the earlier study investigators.

    “Earlier case-crossover studies likely overestimated the relative risk for cellphone conversations while driving by implicitly assuming that driving during a control window was full time when it may have been only part time,” said Young. “This false assumption makes it seem like cellphone conversation is a bigger crash risk than it really is.”

    In Young’s new study, his research team used Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data to track day-to-day driving of more than 400 drivers during a 100-day period. He then divided the days into pairs, with the first day representing the “control” day and the second day representing the “crash” day in the earlier studies. Overall, the team found little driving consistency in any given clock time period between the two days — driving time on the control day was only about one-fourth of the driving time on the crash day, during any specific clock time period.

    “This underestimation of the amount of driving in the control windows by nearly four times could reduce cellphone conversation time in that control period,” Young said. “It makes it appear that there is less cellphone conversation in control periods than in the time just before a crash, making the relative risk estimate appear greater than it really is.”

    Young found that when the cellphone conversation time in the control window was adjusted for the amount of driving, the amount of cellphone usage in the control window was about the same as in the minutes before a crash. He concluded that the crash risk for cellphone conversation while driving is one-fourth of what was claimed in previous studies, or near that of normal baseline driving.

    Young added that many well-controlled studies with real driving show that the primary increase in crash risk from portable electronic devices comes from tasks that require drivers to look at the device or operate it with their hands, such as texting while driving. Five other recent real-world studies concur with his conclusion that the crash risk from cellular conversations is not greater than that of driving with no conversation.

    “Tasks that take a driver’s eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel are what increase crash risk,” said Young. “Texting, emailing, manual dialing and so forth — not conversation — are what increase the risk of crashes while driving.”

    The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all 50 states and the District of Columbia ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers. Young said this recommendation goes beyond the data from newer studies, including his, because it would ban cellphone conversations while driving.

    “Recent real-world studies show that cellphone conversations do not increase crash risk beyond that of normal driving — it is the visual-manual tasks that take the eyes off the road and the hands off the wheel that are the real risk,” said Young.

  • Bumba

    On yahoo, you can only comment on sports stories, and in the new yt layout(you can still have your channel on the old version if youd like) won’t show people how popular you are, you can’t see their channel views, subs, or total upload views.


    Our governments reply will be like it always is; Screw you, we know better than you what is good for you. Translated; keep the tax payers ignorant so we can keep on screwing them out of their wealth.

  • DanB

    For me, the irony in this is that those complaining about government having the tools to take away their freedom of speech because of legislation are many of the same people who wanted government control of the internet. Many of these tech giants who are complaining are some of the same that believe government should help bring the internet to all corners of the nation. So they thought they could all the good of involving government (which is very little) and avoid all the bad (which is a whole big mess)? The fools. Of course, there were those of us who are in IT that objected to government providing the internet because we knew that if government was granted an inch that it is the nature of government to seek control over the people…. Then again, a lot of them believe in communism too even though history shows time and again the evils of communism in practical application.

  • http://charter howe

    Last month the National Defense Authorization act was passed into law which gave the govt the right to detain Americans suspected of terrorism on U.S. soil, but there really wasn’t a mechanism in the bill to prevent the military from coming to your house, placing you under arrest and keeping you in a detention center for years without a warant or due process and believe it or not, some of the Congress people do not even understand what the ramifications are for this bill. In my opinion, It could be used to incarcerate dissidents if we become a socialist nation, which can only happen if Obama is re-elected. I do not like the risk of this dilemma but Congress is tone deaf. In any case the govt continues to grow and gets more intrusive and someday we willl wake up under communist rule. The FCC CZAR who works directly for Obama has already begun the over reach of govt on the internet with many new FCC rules. The govt is able to do almost anything on-line to breach your privacy and shut you down.


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