Stop the madness ... act now to stop PIPA and SOPA

Although I usually don't comment on politics, there is upcoming legislation that I felt could not go unnoticed.  As  many of you already know, Congress has been working to pass two pieces of legislation, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), that I believe would be devastating to many of our members.  Although their intent is to curb internet piracy, these bills will permit the federal government to shut down and financially disable websites that are perceived to be linking to copyrighted content. 

Recently, these bills have recently come under fire from several organizations and companies, including social media websites and major media publications, for several reasons.  The recent article by Forbes magazine sums up many of their issues with the legislation:

“The act would allow the government to go after and block websites and search engines that post or link protected content without permission. How it defines protected content is the problem… [The bill] would affect legitimate and law-abiding start-up sites like Twitter, Birchbox, Etsy, Foursquare and Pinterest that curate content from different sources.”

The problem with the legislation is that it is written too broadly.  For instance, the bill states that to prevent liability sites and their hosts must take “technically feasible and reasonable measures” to prevent unlawful content from appearing on their site.  Unfortunately, the broadly interpreted definition of “technically feasible and reasonable measures” means that a judge could determine just how stringent a university’s network security measures should be.  This is a dangerous precedent, as instead of leaving internet security professionals in charge of determining what necessary steps need to be taken to protect internet networks, the bill turns over that authority to a judge, which may or may not have a basic understanding of how the internet functions.  System administrators and web developers would have to constantly update security features to meet the requirement de jour of their institution’s websites.
Recent outcry from the technology community has halted the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and now this is the time to act in the Senate.   If you live in Ohio, please call Senator Brown (who is a current co-sponsor) and Senator Portman today and tell them that you would like them to oppose the Protect IP Act:

Senator Sherrod Brown: (202) 224-2315
Senator Rob Portman: (202) 224-3353

Please ACT NOW ... call your Senators, and consider writing a letter to your member of Congress, or newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to speak out about this legislation, and in addition here is a huge list of organizations, academics, and companies who are also opposing these bills.