Usenet Providers Join the Fight Against Censorship

Today some very popular websites including Wikipedia, Reddit, Google and WordPress are taking action to educate users on the far reaching censorship implications of pending legislation.  Specifically the Protect IP Act (PIPA) which is set for a vote in the Senate on January 24th and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that’s working it’s way through the House Judiciary Committee.  Usenet providers including Giganews and FastUsenet have joined the fight with ‘Stop Censorship’ messages linked to the EFF’s ‘Stop Internet Blacklist‘ page.

If you live in the U. S. please visit any of these sites to learn more and contact your representatives:

For those who would like to learn more about SOPA and PIPA we’ll repost information from the EFF ‘Stop The Internet Blacklist Legislation‘ page.  Please visit their site directly to send email to your representatives.

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!

To make the most impact right now, we’re asking YOU to do two things. Today, use our handy tool to send an email to your representatives, letting them know you oppose these bills and they should too. Then, on January 23, when the Senate is back in session (and scheduled to vote on PIPA on January 24), call your Senator and tell him or her that it’s time to stand with the Internet and against the Internet blacklists!

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.

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!

We would like to personally thank Giganews and FastUsenet along with the EFF, Reddit, Wikipedia, Google, WordPress and everyone else working to fight against censorship.  Their efforts deserve action so contact your representatives today!  Let them know your views on the pending SOPA and PIPA legislation.

Here are some screenshots of the messages on some very popular websites today.




As we write this post the Reddit site isn’t down yet but they will be in a few hours.  Their community has made a big impact on the effort to fight the SOPA and PIPA legislation.  As Reddit says in their postThere are powerful forces trying to censor the Internet‘.  We agree and encourage everyone to join in the fight against censorship.

Update: now that Reddit is down for the SOPA / PIPA protest we wanted to also share a screenshot of the site:


Here are some more sites involved in today’s censorship protest:



Boing Boing


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