My Open Letter to Al Franken
Originally submitted by emil10001 on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:37
Now, it may not make much sense for me to be posting this here, but I think that anybody who wants to utilize the internet should care about this issue. Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to reintroduce the COICA, aka the Internet Blacklist Bill. The bill was originally put forward by the entertainment industry so that they could shut down any site that they claim is violating their copyrights. However, it would also give the government the mechanism to make sites that they disagree with disappear.
How this would work is that the government would force the DNS providers to remove the website from their service. The Domain Name Service (DNS) is how a website name, e.g. tinyrobots.net, is translated into an ip address that can be easily processed and routed to the appropriate server. Without an entry in the DNS, typing something like wikileaks.org into your browser will just return an error message when you try to navigate there. Though, you might still be able to get there if you happen to know the ip address.
I picked WikiLeaks as an example for a reason, this has already happened to them. They are not infringing on an RIAA/MPAA owned copyright, rather they are providing a service to the people of this country that the US government does not like. The COICA has not been passed yet, but this is the sort of thing that we could expect to see more of if it does.
I also picked Al Franken for a reason, he has been a very vocal supporter of Net Neutrality. He has spent a lot of time and energy talking about the issue, raising awareness and supporting Net Neutrality. Unfortunately, he supported the COICA in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the COICA would have the potential to be even more damaging to the internet than an infringement by an ISP. This is because the COICA would give the government the power to quietly silence Free Speech.
Letter is after the jump.
Dear Mr. Franken,
I really thought that you were different. I thought you were one of us, one of the people who deeply care about the survival of the internet. You have been a vocal proponent of Net Neutrality. Why, then, did you vote for the COICA as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee? Why didn’t you stand up for Net Neutrality and Free Speech and vote against it?
I understand that your background is in entertainment, and that you are sympathetic to the calls of the industry. However, shouldn’t it have been obvious how this bill could be abused to seriously hinder the ability of individuals to speak freely online? Further, why should the US Government bend to the whims of an industry that has insisted on suing people instead of fixing their business model? And, for that matter, why should your constituents support someone who doesn’t understand the very issue that they claim to be a champion of? It seems that the people aren’t as important as the $700k donation from the entertainment industry.
I am truly disappointed.
Update, here is a list of the judiciary committee members who voted, and how much money they received from the entertainment industry.