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View Diary: Sen. Harry Reid delays PIPA vote in Senate (81 comments)

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  •  Why Is This Page Black? (0+ / 0-)

    Back in 1996, Clinton signed the Communications Decency Act, which was recognized as Internet censorship. Though the release of Netscape only a couple of years earlier had grown the World Wide Web and Internet user base extremely quickly, there were still only a relatively few people using it. Relative to the majority of Americans (and vast numbers beyond our borders) who use it, even depend on it, today. The forces of censorship were moving quickly and foresightfully to control this emerging free medium.

    But there was a backlash. Major sites at the time set their page background's color to black, linking to a "Why Is Is This Page Black?" online campaign.

    It worked. Even though the CDA had actually passed and become law, its censorship provisions were quickly repealed after the backlash. The revised law protects Internet sites from liability for content distributed through them that the site management did not control.

    That is exactly what happened again. Except this time there are far more of us, the Internet's freedom is far more widely understood, and the backlash came just before the bill was passed.

    This time the Senate passing the bill is Democratic, not Republican, though the House is (newly) Republican as it was then. And the presidents are both Democratic; Obama this week opposed SOPA/PIPA, it wasn't at all clear before the backlash of the past few weeks that he wouldn't have signed it as Clinton did the CDA. In fact most of the people in the Congress, who were all lined up to vote for SOPA/PIPA, are the same people who were in Congress in 1996 who passed the CDA.

    We are now 16 years later than 1996's CDA, practically a generation later. But these fights aren't behind us. A free Internet is so much more valuable now, and only increasing as the media alternatives accelerate their descent into props for tyranny, that we can expect only harder and more secret pushes for enslave it.

    We must learn to pre-empt these attacks even better. We need proactive legislation that protects the Internet as a free medium, not just reactive backlashes that put out a fire once it's already started. The campaign this time around should be the basis of exactly that new fight, to secure our rights instead of leaving them floating as a target.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 at 09:54:29 AM PST

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