Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
In the November elections, one of the greatest losses that the left suffered was Russ Feingold. What we didn’t notice until this past week during the rush to please the right wing and President Obama by renewing the unaltered (un)Patriot Act for four more years was that there were others who had picked up the cause of the left, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
Amendment Requires Government to End Practice of Secretly Interpreting Law
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Washington, D.C. – As the Senate prepares to approve a four-year extension of the Patriot Act without public debate about how the executive branch actually interprets controversial provisions in the ten-year-old surveillance law, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Co.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced an amendment to the Patriot Act reauthorization legislation to require the U.S. Attorney General to make the U.S. Government’s official interpretation of the law public.
The amendment also states that it is the “Sense of the Congress” that government officials “should not secretly reinterpret public laws and statutes in a manner that is inconsistent with the public’s understanding of these laws and should not describe the execution of these laws in ways that misinforms or misleads the public.”
Now, Sen. Wyden takes a stand for our internet rights and against the sell out Democrats by placing a hold on the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011” (pdf) or as is euphemistically known the “Protect IP Act” which is the second try at getting Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which failed to pass the last session thanks to Wyden.
The “Protect IP Act” is a revamping of COICA making it just as bad if not worse:
This version changes the “interactive computer services” language mentioned in our post below to “information location tools,” a term that points back to section 512(d) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In that context it’s been generally understood to refer to search engines, though there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t see efforts to expand the definition in actions under this bill. But in any case, requiring search engines to remove links to an entire website raises serious First Amendment concerns considering the lawful expression that may be hosted on the same domain.
In other words, “the proposed laws could be used to shut down websites that link to other websites that authorities claim to be carrying out infringing activities.”
Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog points out that Homeland Security already has shut down sites:
As evidence, I offer channelsurfing.net and atdhe.net. These domains created no content, as near as I could tell. But they linked to sites that offered sports television over the Internet, and those links were on a game-by-game basis. So, for example, if you didn’t want to subscribe to cable, but wanted to watch ESPN games, you could go to one of these sites, peruse the list of links, choose your game and source, click and watch. Sometimes several sources offered the same game, and you had several links to choose from.
Again, neither of these sites generated the video. They merely offered links to other sites that did. Those other sites perhaps violated intellectual property rights; these sites certainly did not.
Now go ahead and click the links for those sites, and see what happened to them. Yep, that’s the Homeland Security logo.
hree guesses when both of these seizures occurred. If you said “Right before the Super Bowl,” America’s ad and money feast with a football game inside, you wouldn’t be wrong. Homeland Security, the counter-terrorism arm of our national security state, is helping to seize small-people’s property (those sites were property) in order to protect the profits and property of billionaire sports owners and the advertisers who love them.
Not that I wasn’t certain that Obama and friends weren’t in the pockets of billionaires and corporation but it is becoming even more evident that most of the Democratic leadership is no better than the Republicans.
We need more people in Congress like Ron Wyden who are willing to stand for the people who elected them. Like Gaius Publius, I’m making lists of those who are willing.