Due Process

8 Technological Reasons to Stop SOPA & PIPA

There’s legislation in the House and Senate right now that is very troubling to me. In the House, it’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act (abbreviated SOPA); in the Senate, it’s called PROTECT IP (or PIPA). The goal of the legislation is to stop online piracy, which is definitely a problem. The Senate will be voting on it later this month, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in awe at the absurdity of this legislation while trying to find a proper way to respond to it.

I’m a freedom loving, Constitution defending, small government guy who writes my own personal opinion about politics (which, for the record, may or may not always be the view of my employer). My day job (the one that actually pays bills) is as a systems administrator for a very large company. I’ve spent the vast majority of the last 13 years since my college graduation dealing with the technology of the Internet, and I know it quite well.

My career in IT and my fondness for liberty make me one of a relatively small number of political bloggers qualified to address this issue from both the technological and political points of view. Today I am discussing the technological issues around this legislation; tomorrow I’ll post the political problems with it.

This weekend I spent a lot of time poring over this legislation, blog posts, and white papers about it. I made my own notes and then merged my concerns of this legislation with those I found elsewhere on the Internet. This post is a fairly exhaustive list of the technological problems with SOPA and PIPA.

When a domain is seized, the pirated content still exists on the server. Additionally, it can still be accessed by its IP address. There is nothing, outside of draconian national firewall rules, that can be done to stop Americans from accessing this content.

United Liberty’s Top 20 Most Read Posts from 2011

Yesterday, we went over the top 10 news stories from 2011, which were mainly about news and issues that made headlines this past year. This morning, we’re recapping our most read stories from 2011.

Being a libertarian-leaning blog, we touch on a variety of issues. From those of you that aren’t familiar with libertarianism, it is a philosophy grounded in individual liberty. We believe the individual is sovereign and has a right to pursue whatever lifestyle he chooses, provided that he doesn’t harm or disparage the rights of other sovereigns in the process. The belief in individual sovereign also extends to economic liberty and a belief in free markets.

With that said, our top posts from 2011 range from civil liberties issues, including the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Fourth Amendment, to defending free markets and fighting cronyism and corporatism in Washington and on Wall Street to covering Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and having an open discussing the libertarian philosophy.

We offer no additional commentary on these posts. If you would like to read them, just click on the title. Again, have a safe and happy new year.

Recall of NDAA supporters?

No state is perfect, but Montana seems intent on trying anyways.  Their most recent attempt is a move to recall Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their support of the tyrannical National Defense Authorization Act which, for those who’ve been living under a rock, essentially turns the entire United States into a war zone for the purposes of pursuing “terrorists” and permits the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.

(HELENA) - Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill.

Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses.

The Salem News goes on to state that the issue of a state’s ability to recall federal officials has never reached the federal courts.  In reality, I suspect that the federal courts would strike down such a law as unconstitutional primarily because it would actually give states the ability to actually do something when the federal government oversteps its power, somthing that the courts seem intent on keeping as the status quo.

Drop the SOPA: Protect the Internet from censorship

I’m kind of a rare breed of libertarian.  I actually believe in the concept of intellectual property.  As such, some might be under the belief that folks like me would be in favor of something like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.

Of course, they would be horribly, horribly wrong.

Regardless of ones feelings on IP, the reality is that SOPA is nothing less than a NDAA or PATRIOT Act for the internet.

You see, the internet is the last bastion of freedom anywhere in the world.  While it’s entirely possible to render something illegal in one country, it’s virtually impossible to stamp it out.  Laws and regulations become meaningless as physical borders mean nothing on a cyberscape free from such lines.

The kick in the butt with this bill, as with many similar bills, is that it really won’t do a whole heck of a lot to combat piracy.  Of course, there are some that will argue that what SOPA seeks to do is crush that freedom. That ideas breed in such freedom, and such ideas can not be allowed to incubate.

I don’t know if I would go that far, but what is clear is that SOPA is nothing more than a powergrab.  Those that are supposed to support and defend the Constitution have instead decided to just ignore the document completely.

SOPA seeks to require your ISP to spy on you.  It seeks to hurt companies like Mozilla that haven’t done what the powerful want it to do.  It seeks to rewrite the current laws regarding the internet and remake it into a place where innovation no longer happens.

Now, SOPA may not be all bad.  After all, plenty of companies will love to open up their nations to the off-shore dollars that are bound to flee the United States after a SOPA-like bill is passed.  While I’m not an opponent of out sourcing per se, I’d prefer it not to be encouraged through idiotic legislation.

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

Steal This Comic

Submitted without comment, as none really is needed.

Virtual Shackles's excellent commentary on SOPA and the NDAA

Hat tip: Virtual Shackles, via Geeks Are Sexy

House passes NDAA, White House backs off veto threats

[UPDATE - 7:23pm] The United States Senate passed the NDAA this evening by a vote of 86 to 13. It will now head to President Obama’s desk for approval.

As noted yesterday, House and Senate conferees were moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward to the final action in both chambers with compromise legislation that kept in controversial language that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens and legal residents of the United States.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA overwhelmingly last night by a vote of 283 to 136. You can see how your representative and the members of your state’s delegation voted here. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.

For those of you that are just now catching up on this, the House basically voted last night to suspend the right to due process, the right to a trial by a jury of an accuser’s peers, and the right to habeas corpus. And now that the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded to include not only al-Qaeda but also the Taliban and other “associated forces.” Given the war on terrorism has become an open-ended war with civil liberties being offered by Congress on the alter of the “national security,” this provision will be no doubt be abused; if not by this administration than the next.

It was also noted that the White House asked for the language, at least according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). So it should come as no surprise that the White House has backed off veto threats of the NDAA:

NDAA: Cracking Freedom’s Foundation

This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).

This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.

Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”

We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.

Legislator Wishes To Suspend Civil Liberties To Show He’s “Tough On Crime”

This week, I caught a story on the Atlanta news that immediately drew my attention.  A state Representative, MY state Representative, will introduce a bill during the next legislative session that requires every suspect arrested of a felony to submit to a DNA sample.  Without careful examination, along with a very friendly news report about the bill, this does not strike many everyday citizens as a “bad thing,” as seen in the first comment made about the story.

Gitmo Prosecutor Quits Due to Lack of Fairness in System

The Los Angeles Times ran a stunning piece in this Sunday’s paper detailing the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel J. Vandeveld, the man who was prosecuting nearly 1/3rd of the pending trials for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. Vandeveld, a self described conformist, became disenchanted with “the system” set up in Cuba over issues relating to fairness and lack of due process for the very prisoners he was suppose to prosecute. He lays out accusations of intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys by military officials, and even goes so far as to say he reached out to a defense attorney to ask “how do I get myself out of this office?”.


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