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US Government: First Amendment rights don’t apply to the internet

Posted at 08 September 2010 13:00 CEST by wconeybeer

Is the United States federal government going too far in regards to some of the legal actions that have recently been taken against internet activity, and stifling its citizens First Amendment Rights?

A growing segment of the population seems to believe so, and is beginning to speak out against the actions in order to bring awareness of the issues and possible long-term implications.

One of the situations gaining a great deal of attention is the most recent leaked draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a proposed legal framework that would establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.

In an article this week, Cory Doctorow points out some of the more oppressive aspects of ACTA:

“Particularly disturbing is the growing support for “three-strikes” copyright rules that would disconnect whole families from the Internet if one member of the household was accused (without proof) of copyright infringement. The other big US agenda item is cramming pro-Digital Rights Management (DRM) rules down the world’s throats that go way beyond the current obligations under the UN’s WIPO Copyright Treaty. In the US version, breaking DRM is always illegal, even if you’re not committing any copyright violation — so breaking the DRM on your iPad to install software you bought from someone who hasn’t gone through the Apple approval process is illegal, even though the transaction involves no illicit copying.”

Basically, the government would be able to shut off an entire household’s access to the internet, without due process, if someone had been accused of illegally downloading copyrighted material, and citizens will not have the legal right to break DRM on hardware they own.

But wait, there’s more!

A new bill passing through the US Senate, known as the “media shield bill”, has been created to provide protection to journalists who refuse to reveal confidential sources. While this is a step to enforce First Amendment rights for reporters, some senators have drafted an amendment that excludes websites like Wikileaks. The issue here is that the internet has caused a large gray area in the definition of “journalism”.

While there is no doubt some illegal activity in these scenarios that needs to be addressed, the point that Mitch Wagner makes in a recent column is that there are already laws against these activities. Why must the government add an oppressive layer on top of laws that already exist?

The scenarios that the world is currently encountering as a result of the evolution of the internet as a communication and archival tool are unprecedented, I will admit. Unfortunately, rather than trying to think up suitable solutions to these issues, it seems that politicians are making irrational decisions that are going to erode the freedoms the nation has worked for centuries to uphold. Not that I have a better solution to suggest at this point, but I would almost argue that inaction would be more productive for society until someone figures out how to address these situations in a way that doesn’t threaten the freedoms of the innocent.

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There are 22 comments

Mr. Belvedere
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 08 Sep 10 14:27
    Are they completely nuts? This will cause an outrage. Groups like 4chan will go and bite each and every senator.
    UTR
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 08 Sep 10 15:22
      Welcome to the growing nanny state. Another good reason to vote this November. I don't see any law restricting First Amendment rights surviving long under court challenge. Especially with the Supreme Court's current makeup. IMO, the country is in no mood to have further erosion of Constitutional rights. IMO, this dovetails into the Internet kill switch proposals etc. to give government more control of the masses and how they receive information. Many politicians don't like an informed public and the Internet is the great information equalizer. This type of restriction also pays back the music and movie industry lobbyists so it serves two purposes.

      I think a lot of this type of stuff is being floated around in secrecy. Makes me wonder what our current government is thinking of that we DON"T know about. With any luck there will be gridlock and a check on the executive branch after the November 2nd election. Then ideas like these will be DOA.
      rla
      Banned
      Posted on: 08 Sep 10 17:39
        We sat here and watched the 4th amendment being trashed for the last decade all in the name of protecting freedoms. The 1st will be much easier. As long as people act like puppets and sheep this will continue. The number one rule in Government is that if there is room for abuse there will be someone who will abuse. The political activists are just way to late in trying to reclaim this nation. The party was over years ago.
        justcallmebob
        MyCE Resident
        Posted on: 08 Sep 10 18:46
          Wow. The US Government doesn't have anything better to do than something like this? How about stimulating the economy, creating more jobs and securing our borders.
          RTV71
          MyCE Member
          Posted on: 08 Sep 10 20:09
            "Unfortunately, rather than trying to think up suitable solutions to these issues, it seems that politicians are making irrational decisions that are going to erode the freedoms the nation has worked for centuries to uphold."

            They're not irrational at all. Both Republican wing-nuts and Democratic moon-bats will do anything to gain power so selling-out to the RIAA/MPAA is completely predictable. The only way it wouldn't happen is if neither party is in control of the various branches of government. The Libertarians would probably be against it but most of them are distracted with their Tea Party populism.
            ivid
            MyCE Resident
            Posted on: 09 Sep 10 00:08
              That's what you get when the government is chalk full of ex-RIAA lawyers.

              There are far more serious problems they should be focusing on.

              In good news, and somewhat related, it was announced today that the evil and horrendous ACTA is being trashed by the European union ! They will no longer take part in any negotiations. Yay !!
              Jim Kiler
              MyCE Member
              Posted on: 09 Sep 10 18:56
                If this act becomes law then I hope hackers get a lot of innocent people internet blocked to show how bad this Act is.
                skyblue14213
                New Member
                Posted on: 09 Sep 10 19:18
                  You give the goverment a little room and they will start eroding our freedom and rights as americans little by little until eventually the worst possible reality sets in for americans were we will be a prisoner in our own country. But hasn't that already started with the patriot act just after the 9/11/01 incident. I mean think about it and you will realize that we don't need stuff like the patriot act, all we need to do is step up security without treading on americans rights, it is plain and simple that old fashion investigating will solve. Any country is vulnerable to attack no matter what laws or acts are put in place. If say a country like china wanted to attack the usa the patriot act is not going to stop them or deter them at all. I was born in the united states of america, I have never ever been even related to any terrorism whatsoever and the government has the gall to think that they have a right to invade my privacy for no reason at all, and then shove the patriot act in my face to excuse them from treading on my freedoms as an american, that is ridiculous and inexcusable. It seems to me the patriot act is not patriotic at all, it is the exact opposite of what the term "patriot" implies. The definition: patriot- One who loves his country, and zealously supports its authority and interests. Last I checked this country is for the people and all their interests like freedom and american rights. Not the government and all their interests or a military state like it has been. The people are the ones that should be running the government, not the government running the people like it has been. Remember What Jesus Christ said: " A kingdom against itself cannot exist" , this could be applied to the situation that the u.s.a is in right now, were the u.s.a is against itself by some that are treading over what the u.s.a stands for at it's very cornerstone foundations. The moment a country ceases to be what it stands for, it ceases being that country.
                  Coriantumr
                  New Member
                  Posted on: 09 Sep 10 21:01
                    Is not a Nanny State. It is a Consortium between Content providers and Government officials. It is beginning to feel and sound like Germany in the 1930's. There it was a consequence of War and Recession. Today.....not quite the same. For all those who aplaud Apple and Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon they will live to see the day they control all electronic Gizmos around.
                    Blu-rayFreak
                    MyCE Resident
                    Posted on: 09 Sep 10 22:24
                      I find it pretty sickening to even suggest that the internet and websites wouldn't be protected by the first amendment's right to free speech, even for WikiLeaks & similar sites. This is another example of why Americans needs to support the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation).
                      raceman94
                      MyCE Rookie
                      Posted on: 10 Sep 10 02:05
                        Time to vote the dumbasses out!
                        samlar
                        MyCE Resident
                        Posted on: 10 Sep 10 06:06
                          Quote:
                          Originally Posted by raceman94
                          Time to vote the dumbasses out!

                          People will not do this because they are tied to parties and both parties are dumbasses. VOTE NONE OF THE ABOVE NEXT ELECTION.
                          UTR
                          MyCE Resident
                          Posted on: 10 Sep 10 06:29
                            Quote:
                            Originally Posted by samlar
                            People will not do this because they are tied to parties and both parties are dumbasses. VOTE NONE OF THE ABOVE NEXT ELECTION.
                            The Tea Party movement is basically the Libertarians taking over the Republican Party. They are scaring the hell out of the the establishment politicians. Especially in the Republican Party. Just look at who Democrats try to demonize and career Republicans won't endorse and that tells you who should get your vote.
                            getit29
                            MyCE Resident
                            Posted on: 10 Sep 10 06:53
                              When you get a communist sympathizing Long Legged Mack Daddy in the White House
                              running the Country what more can you expect from the Government?
                              DrageMester
                              Retired Moderator
                              Posted on: 10 Sep 10 10:28
                                Quote:
                                Originally Posted by samlar
                                People will not do this because they are tied to parties and both parties are dumbasses. VOTE NONE OF THE ABOVE NEXT ELECTION.
                                Brewster for President?!?

                                http://dubyad40.com/images/blogimages/brewster.jpg

                                http://s1.hubimg.com/u/329853_f520.jpg
                                samlar
                                MyCE Resident
                                Posted on: 10 Sep 10 10:58
                                  Quote:
                                  Originally Posted by getit29
                                  When you get a communist sympathizing Long Legged Mack Daddy in the White House
                                  running the Country what more can you expect from the Government?
                                  No need for name calling The person in the white house is not the problem it is congress when are people going to learn that congress controls our government.
                                  getit29
                                  MyCE Resident
                                  Posted on: 10 Sep 10 11:39
                                    Quote:
                                    Originally Posted by samlar
                                    No need for name calling The person in the white house is not the problem it is congress when are people going to learn that congress controls our government.
                                    I'm not really name calling per say more of a stating of an opinion on my part
                                    and yes I know congress controls most of the government but the main man in
                                    the White House still has his Veto power and he could over rule some of the
                                    stupid crap congress is coming up with if he wanted too.

                                    Just like in January all of the people on Social Security and disability didn't get
                                    a raise and Obama and his stimulus promises of each one getting a $250.00
                                    payment boy it sure it ain't happened yet at least I didn't get it, just another
                                    one of his hot air promises.

                                    I totally agree with Dr. David Manning PhD on how he feels about President Obama
                                    and the others in the United States government. Everyone needs to watch this video.
                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4xb8...eature=related
                                    marloyd
                                    MyCE Resident
                                    Posted on: 11 Sep 10 22:19
                                      We started a long time ago giving our rights a way ,you can't smoke yourself to death anymore against the rules. you can't drive to work along you have to car pool.you can't walk on the grass and you have to pay for the upkeep to that grass.It started slow but the leaders thing they know best ,they can't control their kids but they run the countries.they can't balance a check book but run the banks.We got to beat it into the law makers that they are working for the people and not for themselves.
                                      samlar
                                      MyCE Resident
                                      Posted on: 14 Sep 10 22:14
                                        This would be a great new post what you cannot do now that you could do 100 years ago.
                                        marloyd
                                        MyCE Resident
                                        Posted on: 14 Sep 10 22:58
                                          Yea it could go on for ever there's so many useless laws on the books the police don't enforce them because they are embarrassed to enforce them.The congress doesn't care about old laws they just want to pass the new one so they can get paid off.I know you think don't worry about old laws, you don't under stand they were new when some of us were growing up like you are now.They were our rights then and your rights now.
                                          UTR
                                          MyCE Resident
                                          Posted on: 15 Sep 10 06:20
                                            Quote:
                                            Originally Posted by samlar
                                            This would be a great new post what you cannot do now that you could do 100 years ago.
                                            Not pay income tax.
                                            Gdub47
                                            New Member
                                            Posted on: 02 Oct 10 01:43
                                              Once they get their foot in the door...forget it. Remember when we had a right to NO drug test? Our Supreme Court...took that away...its for the better of all...they said. They already through out our Christian Faith. What's next? Buy an Island? You can't do that anymore. Welcome to "Big Brother"! Be a pirate? It doesn't matter who is in office...forget that Republican and Democrat Poo.

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