Censoring The Net Is A Human Right Violation

As anyone with an Internet connection knows right now, the United States Senate is looking to pass the “Stop Online Piracy Act” SOPA. Looking at the list of organizations that support this legislation would lead you to believe that it is a great tool to protect the “intellectual property” rights of artists.

This entry is cross posted from PirateWho?!, a website dedicated to promoting the Pirate Ideology primarily in North America.

Organizations that support this Act are:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Motion Picture Association of America
  • Independent Film & Television Alliance
  • National Association of Theatre Owners
  • Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc.,
  • National Music Publishers’ Association
  • American Federation of Musicians
  • Directors Guild of America
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Screen Actors Guild
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Association
  • Recording Industry Association of America
  • Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies
  • International Association of Firefighters
  • Comcast
  • NBC Universal
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • Business Software Alliance
  • Concerned Women for America
  • Viacom
  • National Criminal Justice Association
  • National District Attorneys Association
  • Council of State Governments
  • International Trademark Association
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

and the Senators and Represenatives are pushing for this have a strong incentive to pass it considering how much money it brings to them:
Top 3 Represenatives:

  1. Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28] $303,550
  2. Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5] $191,300
  3. Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7] $162,850

Top 3 Senators:

  1. Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] $498,900
  2. Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] $486,000
  3. Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] $368,289

the bums who are against this bill are clearly the poor people who just want to rip off content from the rich job providers since the top threes for opposing is far less:
Represenatives:

  1. Rep. Anna Eshoo [D, CA-14] $39,009
  2. Rep. Zoe Lofgren [D, CA-16] $32,909
  3. Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28] $30,239

Senators:

  1. Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] $68,295
  2. Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] $65,334
  3. Sen. Patty Murray [D, WA] $51,448

Their total amount recieved from intrests groups against SOPA combined does not even equal the top amount raised by the lowest amount raised by the senator who ranked third in the pro column. So clearly this bill is wonderful, if it was so bad… these other organizations clearly would have put more money into the campaigns of these elected officials to have more strength.

Oh, but there is one hitch with this entire show, the United Nations made a declaration of human rights and in that declaration it was said that:

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Every person has a right to defend themselves against the abuses when their constitutional rights are violated. This would be impossible if the United States violates the constitutional rights of a person in a foreign country.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Every person has a right to a fair trial, just like Article 8… This is impossible when it’s a foreign country trodding on your rights remotely.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

If a person has left the United States, or does not reside in the United States, they should not be compelled to answer to the laws of that country otherwise they have not been afforded the right to leave the legal jurisdiction of that country.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Pretty straight forward, any law that allows for the censorship of the Internet is a violation of Article 19. Even within the United States this is against human rights.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

If a foreign government has the right to dictate the laws in your country, you should be granted the right to take part and vote within that foreign government. The will of the people should be the foundation of laws, not the will of the United States.

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Censoring any webpage is a destruction of education. For the Internet to remain untainted and educational, we cannot be censored.

Article 27.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Creating websites, sharing files, sharing content, sharing your life through blogs, pictures, music, etc is all covered under Article 27. This article may as well be burned with the passing of SOPA.

The major problem of this law, is that it compells all citizens of the world who are not American to be held to US law. The traditional World Wide Web is highly focused in the United States. ICANN is a US organization, they are the organization that converts the easy-to-remember web address (like PirateWho.org) into an IP address (like 209.141.45.137) so even if your servers are not physically present in the United States, this act would set the precident (combined with the actions US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is already carrying out with Operation In Our Sites) that ICANN can shut off access to any website in the world.

Most of the fibre nodes of the world go through the United States as well, so they can shut off access from a company even passing data through their lines to these websites. Considering 80% of all Canadian web traffic goes through the United States, if a website is blocked from within the United States, it is effectively blocked in Canada as well.

I left the United States because I realized that the country was going to get worse before it got better. With the passing of this law, I will be compelled to uphold US law, even though I am not a resident of the United States. My friends of Canada are being held by US law and they have never been American in their life. This is a violation of basic human rights that all people have access to fair trials and the ability to face their accusor.

I don’t blame the US senators who adopted this. They, more likely than not, don’t know of the full impact of this Act. However, now you do… and it’s important to contact your local US Embassy, your local federal enforcement agency, and contact the US senators and represenatives who are supporting this bill.

travis.mccrea

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Discussion

  1. Karmic Mishap

    I think that this is an interesting article, but perhaps some of the data above have suffered from errors in transcription. Most confusingly, the bit about relative donations to Congresspeople for and against the bill seem to show Sen. Harry Reid as both a supporter and opponent of the bill, with different dollar amounts from donations listed for each. Is this just a typo? How could this be?

    1. Travis McCrea

      So this isn’t actually on my part, but more where I got the data:
      The money figures show how much a person got from interests on each side of the act. So Comcast who is in support of the act could have given Reid $50 and Google who is in opposition gave $25. The system takes the total amount of donations a candidate received from the organizations who are for it, and then the organizations who are against.
      The list would show him with $50 then $25.

      Not technically error in transcription, I just should have been more clear that those who received this money isn’t exactly for or against the act, just the interests in support of the bill have given more.

  2. AeliusBlythe

    It’s distressing to see it all laid out like that, particularly:
    “If a person has left the United States, or does not reside in the United States, they should not be compelled to answer to the laws of that country …”
    An important point for us expats–that we will be compelled not only to hold up the laws of the country we chose to leave as well. Lately, I’ve become more worried about crossing the U.S. government than the Chinese government… and I live in CHINA.

    and this part:
    “Censoring any webpage is a destruction of education. For the Internet to remain untainted and educational, we cannot be censored.”

    You know, I think many people still don’t see the internet as primarily educational–it’s something fun that makes life easier. They ignore its vital importance for education, staying informed, forming independent thought, and encouraging creativity–all things which are stunted with legislation like this. But since people can’t see it, they think “What’s the big deal? Some rogue websites get taken down, so what?”

    Or maybe that’s just writers, who tend to be somewhat luddite. But I run into that mentality a lot.

    1. ForskarGurra

      That mentality will go away over time. I think it is mostly the current older generations who think the internet is merely a “toy” for the younger generations and not something really revolutionary.

      1. Travis McCrea

        Yes. The problem is the old people might fundamentally change our internet before we reach the time that everyone realizes it’s importance. Also remember that there are still a lot of technology illiterate people out there. The other day a guy younger than me was asking some of the people in our office how he can get music onto his MP3 player.

        Mind you, that guy will never become a politician… but that guy probably isn’t going to be upset when a politician destroys the internet. Also while it’s easy to see all the young progressive people in the world, many will become more conservative when they get older.

      2. AeliusBlythe

        @ForskarGurra
        I sincerely hope you’re right. But by the time more of the younger generation get into positions of power, undoing what the current powerful generation is doing may be very difficult.

        The other thing is that, while visitors to _this_ site are more likely to be outspoken on topics like this, as usual common apathy may stunt progress. I am constantly amazed that many people my age who are online as much as the average young person, downloading, uploading like crazy –people who would be seriously affected by the legislation being considered now–who don’t have any interest in the politics behind it. Of course apathy’s always a problem. But that’s why I can’t relax and trust that all this will just go away. Of course I do hope you are right…

  3. Travis McCrea

    It’s also horribly ineffective…. when they take down TUEBL (The Ultimate Ebook library), I will launch TGEBL (The Greatest Ebook Library). They will never win.

  4. Fredrik

    Let’s not forget the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law” … “abridging the freedom of speech”.

  5. John Teboll

    Remind to Howard Berman, Steny Hoyer and Eric Cantor that : “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington. Remind them also that George Washington is a military leader and the first president of USA.

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