In a recent post at Poli-Tea on the Democratic-Republican national security police state and surveillance society, I noted that S.3804 (a bipartisan bill aimed supposedly at “combating online infringement and counterfeits”) represents a threat to freedom of speech online and would conceivably provide the government with the authority to target and censor groups such the US Pirate Party. I contacted Marcus Kessler from the Pirate Party of Oklahoma and asked him for his response to the fact that this bill could result in the censorship of the Pirate Party’s website. Via email, he writes:
I honestly would not be surprised if the websites of the Pirate Parties would be some of the first sites that get taken offline due to this bill. If we take a look at the various “Internet Black Lists” that are used by numerous countries around the world, we find that many of sites listed do not fit the stated purpose of the list. In addition these lists are often the proverbial foot in the door, and once a system is put in place more criteria for inclusion are added. For example, after the passage of Germany’s Internet Blacklist targeting child pornography, multiple groups started a push to include violent video games, online gambling, and political dissent as criteria for inclusion.
Even if this bill only blocks sites based on Infringement, this definition alone could be easily used as a justification to shut down the web presence of private competitors and political opponents. A perfect example would be the current gubernatorial race in Ohio where a political ad was taken off YouTube under a DMCA notice arguing infringing use, despite the fact that the use of copyrighted material falls under fair use. If the current DMCA laws are sufficient to remove a political ad from the internet, then it is very reasonable to believe that COICA [i.e. S.3804] can and will be used to silence political opponents. We hope that our politicians follow their own criticism of countries such as China when it comes to promoting open access to information for citizens and realize that without the free flow of information, we cannot have democracy.
Thanks for your response Marcus! Check out the Pirate Party’s website.