By Vladimir Gladkov
In October 2011, the US Congress made an attempt to adopt a law known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA for short.
This draft law stirred much criticism, and, as a result, the law was not adopted.
However, at present, the Congress is viewing another draft law, which, if adopted, may considerably abridge the rights of web users.
The heated debates in connection with this SOPA draft law showed that the issue of free content on the Web still presents a big problem for the US authorities and for a number of the country’s largest content-producing companies. The government says that this draft law is aimed at protecting the rights of content producers on the Web. But some experts say that this law, if adopted, would protect the content producers’ rights very ineffectively, but it would, in fact, give the authorities the right to censor the web publications.
The SOPA draft law, if adopted, would have given the authorities not only the right to remove the illegally published content but to freeze the accounts of the company, which owns the site that published this content, as well. The US Trade Chamber, and, first of all, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America tried their utmost for this law to be implemented. However, even such giants failed to withstand the protests of such web companies as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo, who managed to convince the authorities that SOPA would hardly stop online piracy but would considerably hamper the world’s technical progress, which is now unthinkable without the web.
When President Obama himself joined the opponents of SOPA, practically no chances were left for this draft law to be adopted, at least in its initial formulation – although Hollywood had spent millions of dollars on its support. It has been decided to drastically reformulate the draft law.
Now, a new draft law has appeared on the basis of the old one. It is called The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA for short. However, the new draft law seems to be stirring even more criticism than its predecessor SOPA. Even a big number of those who supported SOPA have now become decisive opponents of CISPA.
And, they are probably right in their negative attitude towards the new draft law, because it, if adopted, would allow the authorities and private companies to acquire assess to web users’ personal correspondence even without a relevant permission of a court. Besides, the new law will oblige social networks, which are now visited by millions of people, to share any information about their clients with the government if the latter orders them to do so.
Rumors that such web giants as Facebook and Google have nothing against informing the government about their clients have been circulating among web users for a long time already. However, if the new law is adopted, these companies will just have no choice.
It is noteworthy that one of the most decisive opponents of this draft law is Ron Paul, a candidate for presidency and a Republican. Mr. Paul has never missed a chance to criticize the US government for too much control over the American citizens. Now, he says that by obliging the social networks to report about their users, the government will most likely make people trust social networks less. And this can hardly be helpful for further social and economic progress, which is now unthinkable without communication on the web.
Mr. Paul is probably right when he says that the US government’s efforts to control people’s life often take exaggerated forms. For example, recently, a law was adopted in the US which allows the government and private companies to use drones for controlling the country’s territory.
Meanwhile, 112 US congressmen have already confirmed that they would support the adoption of the CISPA draft law. So, the authors of this draft law may hope that the House of Representatives will most likely adopt it already before the end of this week.