It didn’t take long after Fukushima meltdown on March 11, 2011 for concerned individuals to realize that they were not being told the truth about the disaster and its radiological consequences. We immediately turned to each other for information, via the good old-fashioned Internet. Websites like EnviroReporter.com, Fairewinds, Committee to Bridge the Gap, Potrblog.com and others stepped up and are continuing to provide critical information on the worst nuclear disaster humanity has faced to date. The information we provide isn’t complete, to be sure, but it’s vital and potentially live-saving.
Don’t count on being able to access uncensored information about Fukushima, or anything else, however, if SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) or its Senate version PIPA (the Protect IP Act) becomes law. While it’s stated purpose is to protect American intellectual property, the bill is loaded with measures that would potentially have a chilling effect on free speech and essentially put an end to the Internet as we know it.
SOPA is supported by large and well-financed entertainment industry groups but opposed by almost all of the major internet entrepreneurs and engineers as well as web-hosting and social networking sites who would find themselves in the unenviable task of playing big brother to their users or being shut down.
“These two pieces of legislation threaten to: Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload,” reads “An open letter to Washington” signed by co-founders of Google, Yahoo, and YouTube among others including the founders of eBay, Wikipedia, and Twitter. “This would have a chilling effect on innovation; Deny website owners the right to due process of law; Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.”
EnviroReporter.com‘s web hosting company, Dreamhost, has this to say to its customers:
SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is what happens when people who don’t use the Internet attempt to regulate it. It’s a well-intentioned piece of legislation that has been written so poorly that, should the bill pass, nearly anything online could be considered ‘piracy’ in some form or another. SOPA would place ANY website that houses any form of user-generated content at immediate risk of shutdown and would effectively stifle innovation among web entrepreneurs.
If someone posted a link to copyrighted material in, say, the comments of your WordPress blog about cats and their sweater choices, we would have to shut down your ENTIRE domain as soon as we received a complaint about it – whether that complaint was valid or not! There would be no pre-shutdown courtesy letter, no friendly ‘please remove this from your site’. Just BOOM! The end. Obliterated. Everything gone.
The SOPA vote was delayed on December 16 and rescheduled for January 24th. Today it was announced that a public hearing will be held on January 18 in which technical experts will testify on security and other implications of SOPA.
If we don’t raise our voices loudly, now, we can kiss the golden age of freedom of information on the Internet goodbye.
To take action, you can go to:
Other resources (we may add to this list):
*January 14, 2012 UPDATE
The White House responded to two online petitions concerning SOPA with “COMBATING ONLINE PIRACY WHILE PROTECTING AN OPEN AND INNOVATIVE INTERNET.” While certainly comprehensive and positive in tone in response to anti-SOPA petitions, the Administration’s penchant for preaching one thing then doing another portends a rocky road ahead.
In what could be a sign of protests against SOPA to come, major Internet websites are spearheading a campaign to get Internet users’ attention by blacking out this Wednesday or creating anti-SOPA flash pages with links for further information.
Anti-SOPA Internet heavyweights Reddit and Boing Boing and all of the Cheezburger sites will be supporting the SOPA Blackout January 18. Cheezburger’s Fail Blog, ICanHaz, Memebase and all other websites under its banner will be supporting the SOPA blackout. EnviroReporter.com will be supporting this protest with an anti-censorship flash page visible to all who visit the site Wednesday.
One thing we note that seems absent from the anti-SOPA websites is the idea of a strike of the entertainment concerns behind SOPA. If this draconian legislation can’t be rolled back, the very real threat of Internet industry concerns against Hollywood could take a very real and costly turn.
An “open and free” Internet thanks to the FCC’s 3-2 vote, along party lines with the Democrats in the majority. Without this milestone, which can be undone by Republicans if they manage to elect a President, you wouldn’t be seeing much of EnviroReporter.com. Or at least very fast.
Verizon and AT&T, with their dubious service already, have threatened to take the FCC to court over this. Today, a Republican statement said “We will not stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the internet. We plan to support and urge our colleagues to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving the “Open Internet” rules.”
“Imperil the future of the internet” by making it fair and even? Shameless utterances don’t distort this issue that is paramount for our times.
Even though we question the wisdom of many of the Obama Administration’s decisions on areas we cover, including its plan to blow $355 billion modernizing America’s already bristeling nuclear arsenal from 2014 through 2023, we salute the President on saving the Internet.
“Today’s FCC decision will protect innovation and create a level playing field for the next generation of entrepreneurs – and it wouldn’t have happened with Americans like you,” President Obama said in a statement released after the vote. “More than 4 million people wrote in to the FCC, overwhelmingly in support of a free and fair internet. Countless others spoke out on social media, petitioned their government, and stood up for what they believe.”
We salute the FCC and the President for keeping the Internet relatively open and free. Online news organizations like EnviroReporter.com will not take a back seat to anyone, and neither will you.
“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.
“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.
When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever. Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it. Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.
The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:
* No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
* No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
* Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
* No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.
The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.
To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past. For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.
So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.
Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court; in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.
The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. I thank the Commissioners for having served this cause with distinction and integrity, and I respectfully ask them to adopt the policies I have outlined here, to preserve this technology’s promise for today, and future generations to come.
EXCELLENT news from our friends in the European Union this July 4: By a vote of 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions, the “European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement Wednesday after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe” according to the Associated Press.
This is another example of the people standing up for freedom of the Internet, a welcome development for award-winning website such as EnviroReporter.com which has been and is the target of malevolent forces determined to undermine what YOU get to read, see, watch and hear on the Internet.
“I love the look of an uncensored website in the morning…. looks like…. Victory.”
everyone should watch this video, this man explains it