Matthew Ingram at GigaOm has written a piece worth exploring, called “Looks like Congress has declared war on the internet.”
In a by now cliched story, Congress has taken that which they do not understand (the internet), hitched it up to something that they do (overregulation), and squeezed several tight coils of bad legislation right on our collective front yard. In pertinent part, Ingram spells out the problem:
What it really is, however, is a disaster for the internet. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes in a post on the proposed legislation, the law would not only require ISPs to remove websites from the global network at the request of the government or the courts (by blocking any requests to the central domain-name system that directs internet traffic), but would also be forced to monitor their users’ behavior in order to police acts of copyright infringement. Providers who do not comply with these requests and requirements would be subject to sanctions. And in many cases, legal hearings would not be required.
The bottom line is that if it passes and becomes law, the new act would give the government and copyright holders a giant stick — if not an automatic weapon — with which to pursue websites and services they believe are infringing on their content. With little or no requirement for a court hearing, they could remove websites from the internet and shut down their ability to be found by search engines or to process payments from users. DMCA takedown notices would effectively be replaced by this nuclear option, and innocent websites would have to fight to prove that they deserved to be restored to the internet — a reversal of the traditional American judicial approach of being assumed innocent until proven guilty — at which point any business they had would be destroyed.
So the internet, which is as vibrant, useful, and frankly awesome as it is because it has not heretofore been strangled by the stupidity of a government that is always at least two decades behind the times, will now be strangled as such. Wonderful. Way to look out for our best interests, Congress.