Are SOPA, PIPA, and others just paranoid reactions to how the Intenet was used in Egypt?

censorship-InternetLately there has been a large focus on the Internet and that it is becoming less of the open communications community that people believe that it should be. We have watched as laws like SOPA, PIPA, Open, ACTA and others have been proposed on the basis of protecting Intellectual Property. Because of the push to protect corporate interests it is often felt that the big entertainment companies are behind these laws. If the truth be told many of them are behind these laws, however we cannot remove responsibility from the government in these cases.

When we first read the SOPA and PIPA bills we were more shocked by the loopholes that were left for further expansion than by any other item in either bill. We were not surprised that the MPAA and RIAA wanted to by-pass due process and skip over all of the costly legal hassles that was and is all how they want to operate. What worried us was the fact that the law could be expanded to almost any content that the regulators felt was inappropriate. Even this article, which calls our government’s motives into question, could get this site blocked under SOPA.

This is becoming a bigger and bigger concern as governments see the Internet as a threat to their very jobs. Recently, in the UK, the currently elected government wants ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to help in blocking extreme political sites.  In a report found on the UK Parliament’s own website they claim;

“Many of our witnesses cited the internet as the main forum for radicalisation.[62] Sir Norman Bettison, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead for Prevent, told us that "the internet does seem to feature in most, if not all, of the routes of radicalisation"”

This is a very dangerous type of generalization and one that relies on leaving out all of the facts. The report does go on to state that their findings contradict most other research on this matter.

“This seemed to be contradicted by more recent Home Office-commissioned research, which concluded that the internet "does not appear to play a significant role in Al Qa'ida-influenced radicalisation". “

Other places listed in the report where “radicalization” can happen are in Prisons, Universities, and of course Religious Facilities. However, they felt that the Internet community was by for more dangerous and that once again ISPs should be responsible to policing this content. To be quite blunt, the Internet is probably the one place where there is no path to radicalization. Instead it is more of a community where people that already think a certain way can gather. In places like Prisons, Universities and Churches/Mosques there is a much higher level of indoctrination going on. These are places where you are undergoing a change and are taught things by route.

However, these are also places that the government cannot really control with the flip of a switch. The internet can be (if they get their way) dealt with like this. The problem we all face is that the governments and corporations are waking up to the fact that there is a mass amount of information out on the internet. They are frightened by what can be done; they saw it with the Egyptian uprisings and now are scrambling to plug that hole in their powerbase.  The sad part is that any control measures put in place (like DNS blocking, Deep Packet Inspection, Packet monitoring or filtering) can be hacked and control taken away in a matter of minutes. This is truly the real danger of these plans; the Governments see the dangers, but still do not know enough about how the internet works to truly put any kind of viable system in place.

It is a very scary future we are looking at in terms of the internet and security (personal and corporate). I just hope that we make it through the next few rounds of paranoid, knee-jerk bills that we will see pop up.

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