In our 595th issue:
It looks like the Week of Action Against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has made a difference. Although there wasn't enough opposition to kill the bill outright, the messages we've been sending for weeks — that the bill would create blacklists for online censorship, harm cybersecurity efforts, set a bad international precedent, and lead to a fractured Internet — couldn't be ignored. Chairman Lamar Smith acknowledged that the Judiciary Committee didn't yet have all the facts, and announced that markup would be suspended until the next practicable opportunity — tentatively scheduled for late January.
A group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively. The letter was signed by major Internet architects including Vint Cerf, Paul Vixie, Tony Li, and many more.
There has been a rolling scandal about the Carrier IQ software installed by cell phone companies on 150 million phones, mostly within the United States. Subjects of outright disagreement have included the nature of the program, what information it actually collects, and under what circumstances. We explain Carrier IQ's architecture, and why apparently conflicting statements about it are in some instances simultaneously correct. The information in this post has been synthesised from sources including Trevor Eckhart, Ashkan Soltani, Dan Rosenberg, and Carrier IQ itself.
SOPA Manager's Amendment: It's Still A Blacklist and It's Still A Disaster
Representative Lamar Smith, the principal sponsor of SOPA has released a "manager's amendment" that reworks some of the bill's worst provisions. Frankly, the original provisions were so overbroad and poorly written that we suspect the bill's backers had always planned to eliminate them, as a supposed "compromise."
The Internet Blacklist vs. The Constitution
The revised SOPA briefly mentions the First Amendment, but the substantive text makes clear that's just lip service. We provide a selection of fundamental Constitutional flaws that remain in both SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act.
Free Speech's Weak Links Under Internet Blacklist Bills
The Internet Blacklist bills would have a disastrous effect on online freedom of speech. In order to understand the ways a site placed on the blacklist could be denied a chance to connect with an audience, we've illustrated them with our "Free Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link" chart.
The OPEN Act: The Good, the Bad, and a Practice in Participatory Government
Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa's OPEN Act addresses many glaring problems with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). This proposal represents a more targeted approach to the so-called foriegn site piracy problem, but there's room for improvement. Happily, the OPEN Act's sponsors invite — in fact, encourage — Americans from all sides of the political debate to weigh in.
The Crystal Cox Case and Bloggers as Journalists
A federal district court judge in Oregon raised eyebrows when he rejected claims that a self-proclaimed Internet investigative journalist did not enjoy the protections of the state's reporters' shield law in a defamation lawsuit. The judge's opinion in the case is both more and less important than it might first appear.
New Developments in Egyptian Blogger Cases
Last week 27 out of 28 detainees arrested in relation to the October 9 Maspero massacre were released, leaving Abd El Fattah the sole detainee left in prison. EFF reiterates our call for the immediate release of both Alaa Abd El Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, prisoners of conscience in the Egyptian military's ongoing efforts to clamp down on freedom of expression.
SOPA Undermines the U.S. in Its Negotiations for a Free, Open Internet
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has approved a Recommendation on Principles for Internet Policy Making that contains a set of 14 principles intended as a blueprint guiding Internet policy development for its 34 member states. In spite of this OECD policy framework, members of the U.S. government itself are attempting to push through legislation measures that would subvert many of the core principles found in this document.
This Week in Internet Censorship
This week EFF looks to Russia, where a prominent blogger was imprisoned for 15 days on charges of resisting the police; to Venezuela, where Twitter accounts of critics of the Chavez regime have been attacked by a group supportive of the president and his policies; to Thailand where an American blogger was sentenced to two and a half years in a Thai prison for translating and publishing excerpts of a banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej; and to South Korea, where the Communications Standards Commission of South Korea launched a campaign to monitor "illicit content" on social networking sites.
Don't Break the Internet
Mark Lemley, David S. Levine, and David G. Post write in the Stanford Law Review about the Internet blacklist legislation and the how they "pose grave constitutional problems and 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."
Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel on How SOPA Would Hurt the Free Web (And Wikipedia)
Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel Geoff Brigham gives some comments on the bill and explains what effect the proposed legislation might have on a free and open Internet as well as Wikipedia.
Why The Canadian Government's Lawful Access Claims Stand on a Shaky Foundation
Early next year the Canadian government will introduce lawful access legislation featuring new information disclosure requirements for Internet providers, the installation of mandated surveillance technologies, and creation of new police powers, likely to be accompanied by a series of shaky justifications for the legislation.
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