Archive for December, 2011

Don’t Break the Internet

Don’t Break the Internet

Two bills now pending in Congress—the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement.

Although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression.

To begin with, the bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet’s critical technical infrastructure. Based upon nothing more than an application by a federal prosecutor alleging that a foreign website is “dedicated to infringing activities,” Protect IP authorizes courts to order all U.S. Internet service providers, domain name registries, domain name registrars, and operators of domain name servers-a category that includes hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the like-to take steps to prevent the offending site’s domain name from translating to the correct Internet protocol address. These orders can be issued even when the domains in question are located outside of the United States and registered in top-level domains (e.g., .fr, .de, or .jp) whose operators are themselves located outside the United States; indeed, some of the bills’ remedial provisions are directed solely at such domains.

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Of course, they have NO CLUE of what they are talking about.

Not only that, the bill could be used to stop any website that is not “Aligned” with the 1% line of thought. They would just need to say “This website has some Copyrighted material” and *POOF* no more website. Very, very scary, Youtube is a medium of free speech, for example, and if someone can make any video disappear (Just because the site is *POTENTIALLY* infringing a Copyright, we are in big, big trouble.

Great news.

Yesterday California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced she was teaming up with Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to investigate and prosecute foreclosure fraud and misconduct in the mortgage industry.1

In announcing the move, Attorney General Harris said, “The mortgage crisis is a law enforcement matter, and we will prosecute to hold accountable those who are responsible and also protect the homeowners who are targeted for fraud.”

The alliance with Nevada’s attorney general is a very positive move by Attorney General Harris, whom we know has been pressured by the Obama administration to cut a terrible deal with Wall Street banks that lets them off the hook.

California and Nevada are the two states that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. And Nevada Attorney General Masto has been one of the most aggressive state attorneys general in holding banks accountable for wrongdoing, including criminally indicting a number of people.

The alliance to share information, litigation strategies and evidence for both civil and criminal cases has the potential to set the stage for meaningful accountability for illegal mortgage practices that harmed millions of people in California, Nevada and across the country.

And this would not have happened without the hard work by members of CREDO and other progressive organizations who worked hard to become a forceful counterweight to the political pressure from Washington and from Wall Street to sweep this issue under the carpet.

After a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that Attorney General Harris, who had stopped participating in 50-state settlement negotiations, was being wooed back to the table, CREDO members made over 1,400 calls and sent over 8,000 faxes to her office. And we were joined by groups like MoveOn, Progressives United and Color of Change. On the ground groups, like ACCE, PICO and the New Bottom Line organized protests and rallies to demonstrate strong support for holding the banks accountable.

The fact that Attorney General Harris is deciding to join forces with the only attorney general yet to make indictments — rather than the White House which wants to get back to business as usual on Wall Street — is a very good sign for the future.

The real victory will come when California’s investigations are underway and indictments are issued by Attorney General Harris’ office — we hope that day comes soon.