Challenges to Internet Freedoms Remain With Anniversary of SOPA Defeat in the Books

Categories: Internet, SOPA

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A year ago Sunday, Congress shelved the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Act after millions of concerned Internet users expressed outrage over a bill they believed threatened the freedom of the Internet.

The most memorable of those expressions of outrage against SOPA came a year ago Friday when a number of the most prominent websites, including Wikipedia and Reddit, participated in an Internet Blackout--urging users to reach out to their congressmen and senators to kill the bill.

In light of the recent death of dedicated Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment a little more than a week ago, and the many threats to Internet freedom that still exist--techies, activists and users alike are guarded in their celebration of last year's victories.

"What we've heard after last year is that in this legislative calendar, nobody really plans to address copyright enforcement...Even a year after the SOPA protests, it's still considered toxic on The Hill," Parker Higgins, an activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tells the Voice. "That's a good thing, but we also know that won't last forever, and that it's not an absolute either."

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SOPA: Has It Returned?

In what's being called a "SOPA-style blackout," an Indian court has demanded that the subcontinent's internet service providers ban 104 websites said to feature "unauthorized" media -- bolstering similar efforts in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Chris Dodd, chair and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, told India's commerce leaders this week: "Content theft is a global problem and we must have a global commitment to solving it. This is an important opportunity for the Indian government to move forward with strong protections against online theft," TorrentFreak reports.

Key about this decision: it shows the extent that governments will go to in the fight against piracy, but also demonstrates conflict between these efforts and industry reformers. In fact, some want to keep file sharing sites online.

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SOPA, PIPA, and Kill Switch Bill: Are They Back? Harry Reid to Push for Cyber Security

Late last night Anonymous tweeted that the Senate was trying to sneak in SOPA under a new name, writing: "Le sigh. US Senate Really wants to go another round with the Internet?"

The hacktivist group linked to an RT story detailing Sen. Harry Reid's still secretive plans to float an internet security bill.

Though mass protest -- including a voluntary "blackout" of the web -- prompted Congress to throw out SOPA and PIPA in January, reports suggest that Reid might try to work intellectual property clauses into a new cyber-security bill.

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Feds Seize 16 More Domains as Part of "Operation Fake Sweep"

A 28-year-old Michigan man named Yonjo Quiroa has been arrested and charged with criminal copyright infringement for running nine websites that streamed, among other things, licensed content from the NFL. Quiroa is the lastest in a string of highly public copyright-related arrests, following the extradition of Megaupload founder Kim Schmitz and six of his coworkers from New Zealand earlier this month.

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Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership SOPA 2.0? Anonymous Says So

First came SOPA and PIPA, but now internet-liberty advocates -- such as hacktivist group Anonymous -- warn that a new measure, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be the next affront to a free web.

The org tweeted this morning a rally to stop the TPP, which is currently being negotiated in Hollywood.

The free-trade agreement -- now discussed by nine nations including the U.S. -- is said to include rules on intellectual property that would make participating countries adopt "copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," according to the Electric Frontier Foundation.

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President Obama Wants You to Know That He Likes the Internet Very Much

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Just a few days after Obama's re-election campaign adopted the mobile payment system Square to help increase its fundraising efforts, the president is already taking further steps to cozy up to the tech industry.

Last night in his "virtual town hall" on Google+, President Obama addressed the SOPA/PIPA controversy that has internet denizens everywhere in a tizzy.

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Politician Market, a New Website, Lets Ordinary Americans Buy Off Congress

Do you ever get upset that, as an ordinary American, you cannot simply pay Congress to pass the bills you support? If so, you're in luck. A new website, created by Natan Yellin, a programmer from Israel, plans to do just that! Politician Market aims to level the playing field for monetary donations and imagines "a better America, where anyone can buy politicians without the need for expensive lobbies." Now you can get together with friends and family and try to push through your weed-legalization bill without needing to hire lawyers.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on PIPA and SOPA: Time to Take a Step Back and Start Over

Listen up, Wikipedia, Google, and all you other folks who shut down websites and changed your Facebook profile pic in solidarity! Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand heard you loud and clear and said this morning that it's time to take a step back and reevaluate PIPA and SOPA.

This times well with reports that that's actually happening. The future of the legislation was already looking grim yesterday, and, as of this morning, it was determined that SOPA will be redrafted, and a key vote for the PIPA bill was postponed.

Gillibrand went to the Internet today to make some statements about the controversial anti-piracy legislation that has Internet-lovers (and, you know, free-speech lovers), up in arms. On Twitter, she wrote: "Congress must take a step back & start over to work to curb online piracy & allow tech cos to thrive. NY tech community must be at the table."

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Breaking: PIPA Senate Vote Postponed

PIPA might soon perish.

The Senate planned to vote on highly polemic PIPA on Tuesday, but Majority Leader Harry Reid just announced that he would postpone action on the anti-piracy bill, according to the Wall Street Journal.

And if the downward spiral recent trajectory of the bill is any indication, the outlook is not good for the act.

Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that "recent events" had prompted his decision -- but did not elaborate.

Runnin' Scared has a few guesses about what these "events" might be.

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Lamar Smith: SOPA Author, Copyright Violator

Have you heard of SOPA? Of course you have. Have you heard of Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who in October filed SOPA -- which promotes harsher penalties and even jail time for people caught violating copyright laws, and is basically the reason that today you can't access Wikipedia and Reddit and various other sites, which are protesting the act? Lots of people are mad at Smith, because if there's anything people do really well on the Internet, it's get mad at people who threaten to take away their "free Internet" (more about all that here). They've gotten so mad that they've gone to Smith's website and done a bit of digging, and, well, it appears that Lamar Smith may be in copyright violation himself. This is called "Internet Justice."

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