Just this month, the United States signed on to a Human Rights Council statement praising freedom of expression on the Internet, along with forty other countries across the world. The purpose of the statement is to emphasize how integral modern-day communications technologies are for the promotion of basic human rights. You would naturally expect the United States, leader of the free world, to be a signatory — but can the recent slew of restrictive legislation being pushed through Congress allow the U.S. to support a globally open Internet in good faith??
Let’s take a look at the inconsistencies:
- The HRC statement says: “We consider Government-initiated closing down of the Internet, or major parts thereof, for purposes of suppressing free speech, to be in violation of freedom of expression. In addition, Governments should not mandate a more restrictive standard for intermediaries than is the case with traditional media regarding freedom of expression or hold intermediaries liable for content that they transmit or disseminate.”
- Yet, Senate Bill 978 — the “Ten Strikes Bill” — would make unlicensed online streaming (by corporations or individual Internet users) a felony punishable by 5 years in prison.
- The HRC statement continues: “All users, including persons with disabilities, should have greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services, whether or not they are offered free of charge. In this context, network neutrality and openness are important objectives. Cutting off users from access to the Internet is generally not a proportionate sanction.”
- Yet, Senate Bill 968 — the PROTECT IP Act or “Internet Blacklist Bill” — would give the government the power to force Internet service providers, search engines, and other “information location tools” to block users' access to sites that have been accused of copyright infringement.
- HRC: “For us, one principle is very basic: The same rights that people have offline – freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek information, freedom of assembly and association, amongst others – must also be protected online.”
- But the Obama administration is facilitating a “three strikes” style deal between Internet Service Providers and intellectual property rights holders to reduce bandwidth and restrict web access to certain sites for users who have been accused of copyright infringement.
If you can’t stand for such hypocrisy on the part of the US government, sign our petitions below:
- Oppose the “Ten Strikes” Anti-Streaming Bill
- Reject the PROTECT IP Act
- Fight the “Three Strikes” Censorship Deal