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US Cracking Down On Internet – OpEd

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By Vladimir Gladkov

US hosting giant Rackspace has publicly opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which is yet to be approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

Formed in 1998, Rackspace currently joins a list of companies to say “No” to the Hollywood-backed SOPA bill. They include Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo which have repeatedly questioned SOPA’s efficiency, adding that the document may legalize Internet censorship and restrict the World Wide Web’s development prospects. Meanwhile, Hollywood continues to inject millions of dollars into lobbying the bill which it hopes will enable to reduce damages caused by pirates.

“Part of the professional code of physicians is that, when they’re treating a patient’s ailment, they should ‘first, do no harm.’ I wish more members of Congress would follow that rule. Instead, in the name of policing the online theft of intellectual property, key lawmakers are pushing a cure that’s worse than the disease,” Rackspace chief executive Lanham Napier said on Wednesday. He stressed that his company fully supports the SOPA bill’s bid to crack down on Web sites that peddle pirated content, something that Napier said would unlikely to be achieved. He added that foreign intellectual property thieves would be able to skirt SOPA which he said would actually legalize Internet censorship.

Right now, Rackspace representatives are in talks with the US Congress to discuss the elaboration of more effective mechanisms to contain Internet piracy. The discussion is almost certain to come to a standstill given the wide support of SOPA by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), analysts say.

Proposed by Republican Lamar Smith in October 2011, the SOPA bill immediately prompted hot debates in the Congress and beyond. The MPAA and the American Chamber of Commerce heaped praise on SOPA which they said will help block the web sites with pirated content. Under SOPA’s Clause 103, an owner of intellectual property is allowed to demand the blocking of accounts of a company which placed offending content on its web site.

Hollywood pumped more than 91 million dollar into the promotion of the SOPA bill that was harshly criticized by Facebook, YouTube and Flickr which expressed dismay about the fact that the bill endangers their very existence. They were echoed by US human rights activists who said that SOPA was out of line with the relevant constitutional amendments. Experts say that if SOPA comes into force, plenty of computer programs will be mapped out in order to unblock the offending sites. Needless to say, this will pose a direct threat to the Internet’s security.

As many key players, including Wikipedia and Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab, continue to speak out against the SOPA bill, web site provider GoDaddy.com saw a mass customer exodus last week after the company was officially listed among SOPA supporters. Go Daddy was quick to do an about-face and drop its SOPA support, however.

As for the US government, it is unlikely to benefit from the adoption of the SOPA bill, our political commentator says. If the US approves the document, it will automatically be associated with China and Iran which have repeatedly been slammed by the Obama administration for using Internet censorship.

VOR

VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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