Celebrate The Web’s 20th Birthday: Fight The Internet Blacklist Bill

Demand Progress urges Americans to defend the principles that underpin the Web’s founding.

It was twenty years ago this week that Tim Berners-Lee, while working at CERN, put the world's first website online.  It announced his new creation: the World Wide Web.  Last year while urging Internet users to sign Demand Progress's petition against the Internet Blacklist Bill, Berners-Lee wrote this about the principles that underpin his project:

"No person or organization shall be deprived of their ability to connect to others at will without due process of law, with the presumption of innocence until found guilty. Neither governments nor corporations should be allowed to use disconnection from the Internet as a way of arbitrarily furthering their own aims." 

The Internet Blacklist Bill — S.968, formally called the PROTECT IP Act — would violate those principles by allowing the Department of Justice to force search engines, browsers, and service providers to block users' access to websites that have been accused of facilitating intellectual property infringement — without even giving them a day in court. It would also give IP rights holders a private right of action, allowing them to sue to get sites prevented from operating.  

S.968 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Ron Wyden (D-OR) is temporarily blocking it from getting a floor vote by using a procedural maneuver known as a "hold".  The House is expected to take up a version of the legislation in coming weeks.

"We encourage Americans to mark this 20th birthday of the World Wide Web by defending the principles that underpinned its creation — now under persistent threat by overzealous governments and corporate interests across the globe," said Demand Progress executive director David Segal.  "In particular, the Internet Blacklist Bill would undermine the basic integrity of the Web, and we expect Congress to take it up when they return from their summer break."

More than 400,000 Demand Progress members have urged their lawmakers to oppose the Internet Blacklist Bill.  Americans can email their Senators and Representatives and ask them to oppose S.968 by visiting: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/pipa_letter/

Demand Progress is an online activism group with more than 500,000 members.  It works to promote civil liberties, civil rights, and other progressive causes.

Double Standards! The U.S. on Domestic vs. Global Internet Policy

( – promoted by John Morgan)

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:

You can read the full text of the HRC statement here, as well as the UN report on pro-Internet freedom being praised here.