Today congress is debating the biggest internet censorship bill ever to face America. It’s Censorship Day! The list of speakers for the hearings has been lined up, and the censorship has begun already: those assholes speaking against the bill have been denied a seat! There are some pretty big name organizations trying to speak out against it, though. Google, Twitter, Facebook, EBay, Mozilla, and plenty of others have drafted a letter against the bill (PDF link, sorry). They had to, they weren’t allowed to speak. Even VP Joe Biden has called it a bad idea, though of course, nobody in Washington listens to Joe Biden.
But I hear you say “Dude, come on, when will this ever apply to me?” Well it will certainly apply to protect you from the freedom of seeing links the government deems inappropriate for you! And aren’t you grateful for that? But it also risks censorship of a handful of sites you may visit on a daily basis, as those hippies at the EFF point out here. Of course, that’s just a sample. DMCA takedown notices have already been issued to people uploading videos of their children singing copyrighted songs to Youtube (resulting in Universal losing a court case over fair use, fortunately), but this bill will close that loophole and make sure that people who stream works like that are guilty of a felony. Finally, all those grandparents will get the jail time they deserve for watching their grandkids being cute!
And if that weren’t enough, it’ll also be illegal to try to circumvent the government’s censorship! The bevy of tools created around the world to help citizens of places like China to avoid their own government’s censorship (Tor, MafiaaFire, assorted Proxy programs) have already been receiving takedown requests from the DHS. It might be good for those poor downtrodden souls in China, but Americans just aren’t downtrodden enough yet!
(On a serious note from a technical standpoint, there is actually an odd upside to this in that it will point out the assorted single points of failure of the internet… that is to say, it will show everyone, clearly, where all of the points are that the internet can be taken down, such that more effective countermeasures and architectures can be implemented. There’s already a lot of that in place and unfortunately some of it sees use for certain incredibly illegal purposes, but the Tor darknet is where pretty much all of the censored domains are likely to go. If that concept spreads, it will just be more difficult for the government to monitor activity and interfere.)
But the time is finally upon us! This bipartisan effort shows that the US government CAN work together for the common goal of fucking us over! Now is our chance to say “Yes, government! Keep us in the dark! Take away our tools for maintaining your transparency and organizing against you! We are but mere citizens and our freedom of information is meaningless!” Be sure to write your assorted congresspeople to let them know you want greater restrictions on your day to day web habits.