(NaturalNews) Freedom of speech is under attack once again as the bloated US federal government continues its quest to destroy the last bastion of free and open communication -- the internet.
Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property" bill, also known as the Protect IP Act, is more oppressive and restrictive to free speech than even communist China's internet censorship protocols, and a group of law professors recently wrote an open letter warning that the bill would allow the government to freely pull websites without any proper legal restrictions.
Last November, NaturalNews reported that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had already begun seizing website domains and ordering that they be shut down permanently for supposed copyright infringement -- and the agency did this apart from due process or a proper trial (http://www.naturalnews.com/030542_censorship_internet.html).
No law or legal precedent permitted this rogue agency -- which is a tyrannical spawn of post-9/11 hysteria that is not even constitutionally legitimate to begin with, by the way -- to undergo its website seizing operation. The agency simply decided to break the law and do as it pleased.
"At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, the [Protect IP Act] would incorporate into US law -- for the first time -- a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law," says a portion of the open letter.
Protect IP Act a Trojan Horse bill to hijack control over the internet
Like most other pieces of legislation that infringe upon freedom, liberty, and the US Constitution, the Protect IP Act is dressed in language that may initially appear to benefit society.
After all, protecting intellectual property from theft will help ensure that private enterprise flourishes, right? Indeed it will, but the provisions of the Protect IP Act completely bypass due process, and do not even allow website owners a fair trial -- the bill basically gives the federal government arbitrary power to shut down websites that it feels are an "infringement."
In much the same way, the "Patriot Act," which is dressed in nice-sounding language about protecting Americans from terrorism, is another Trojan Horse bill that was designed to completely thwart the rule of law.
Ironically, its provisions desecrate the very constitutional protections that were put in place to protect Americans from things like the Patriot Act.
A cursory glance at the language in the Protect IP Act reveals that "Internet site[s] dedicated to infringing activities," which are the subjects of government targeting, is very broadly defined. And because of this broad language, third-parties like ad networks, payment processors, search engines, and even internet service providers (ISPs) are pulled into the crosshairs of government censorship as well.
And since the bill would require no independent investigation or proper trial prior to enforcement to verify that any laws had actually been broken, the US government would thus have the perceived authority to target practically any website, or party connected to that website, that it chooses to, without any checks and balances or restraint.
When taken to its logical end, DHS would have the power to censor search engine results, for instance, on the basis that sites with "infringing activities" may show up in the query results.
This means that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for instance, the music recording industry group that targeted and essentially destroyed the infamous Napster music service years ago, could take advantage of the bills provisions and use the government as its personal enforcement agency to restrict whatever websites it deems a threat to its interests.
Do not be fooled by misguided rhetoric or even the bill's creative title. The Protect IP Act is ultimately not about protecting intellectual property, but is instead about legitimizing control and censorship of the internet by an overbearing central government.
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