Friday, January 20, 2012

Father of the web backs SOPA protests

Father of the web backs SOPA protests

Tim Berners-Lee says US government plan to censor the internet violates human rights.

The father of the web has added his voice to the global chorus of outrage at US Government plans to censor the internet, saying its plans are undemocratic and violate human rights.

The US Congress is pushing ahead with contentious legislation to censor internet communications, the Stop Online Piracy Act, that is backed by five-year jail terms. Although it applies ostensibly to only US entities, Australians who host websites or do online business or rely on resources on US servers would be impacted.

The bill is currently held for "markup" next month, a review that may mean alterations in light of wide-ranging criticism.

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British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web.

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, has called for people to take action against the SOPA. Photo: AFP

As major websites including Wikipedia blacked out in protest overnight, the web's creator, Sir Tim-Berners Lee, urged people to let their feelings be known to block it before it is enacted.

"It affects all the stuff on the internet working and something which would affect what you want to connect to, where you want to connect to," Sir Tim said.

"If you're in America then you should go and call somebody or send an email to protest against these (censorship) bills because they have not been put together to respect human rights as is appropriate in a democratic country."

Sir Tim's call to arms was met with rousing applause and hoots from 5000 delegates to IBM's annual Lotusphere conference, held in the southern, state of Florida.

High-profile sites such as Wikipedia's English-language edition, Google, Yahoo!'s Flickr photo sharing site, news aggregator Reddit and web browser Mozilla are among a growing number of digital media companies who banded together to protest the proposed changes to America's copyright regime either blacking out entirely or carrying messages in condemnation. Google redacted its name in response to one of the biggest ever changes proposed to global copyright policing.

Critics from a broad coalition that includes most IT companies contend the bill's wording would make any internet use potentially impossible without fear of running foul of the law that they say undermines online security while its proponents backed by Hollywood's powerful film distributors say it is needed to stop rampant online piracy.

The bill, coupled to the related Protect IP Act, would grant the US Government unprecedented powers to:

# Block websites thereby erasing protections afforded by internet security standards;

# Demands search engines censor their results not to point to allegedly infringing content;

# Orders payment providers not to process funds deemed to be from alleged infringers;

# Erodes internet commerce by demanding online ad companies refuse to accept ads from allegedly infringing advertisers.

Those convicted of breaking the eventual law face up to five years in jail but compliant internet service providers would be immune from prosecution.

The writer attended Lotusphere as a guest of IBM.

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Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

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