Stop the Internet Blacklist Legislation

The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers Internet innovation. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!

Big media and its allies in Congress are billing the Internet blacklist legislation as a new way to battle online infringement. But innovation and free speech advocates know that this initiative will do little to stop infringement online. What it will do is compromise Internet security, inhibit online expression, and slow growth in the technology sector. Read More

As drafted, the legislation would grant the government and private parties unprecedented power to interfere with the Internet's underlying infrastructure. The government would be able to force ISPs and search engines to block users' attempts to reach certain websites' URLs. In response, third parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet (not just the newly censored U.S. version), which will create new computer security vulnerabilities as the Internet grows increasingly balkanized.

It gets worse: the blacklist bills' provisions would give corporations and other private parties new powers to censor foreign websites with court orders that would cut off payment processors and advertisers. Broad immunity provisions (combined with a threat of litigation) would encourage service providers to overblock innocent users or even block websites voluntarily. This gives content companies every incentive to create unofficial blacklists of websites, which service providers would be under pressure to block without regard to the First Amendment.

Service providers would be forced to monitor and police their users' activities as well, threatening the DMCA safe harbors that have been vital to online innovation over the last decade. SOPA gives the government new powers to go after sites that provide information about tools that might be used to bypass the blacklists – even though these are often the same tools used by democratic activists around the world to bypass Internet censorship mechanisms implemented by authoritarian governments like Iran and China.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) have led the charge in explaining how the blacklist bills threaten the very infrastructure of the open Internet, joined by a growing, bipartisan, group of Congress members. The White House also recently stated it will not support a bill that threatens free speech, innovation, and Internet security. But every Senator and Representative should be opposing the PROTECT IP Act and SOPA and we need to hold the White House to its word. Contact your members of Congress today to speak out!