"Access Denied 2008"

"Access Denied 2008" by Mike Licht, Notionscapital.com on flickr

It was twenty years ago this week that Tim Berners-Lee, while working at CERN, put the world’s first website online.  It announced his new creation: the World Wide Web.  Last year while urging Internet users to sign Demand Progress’s petition against the Internet Blacklist Bill, Berners-Lee wrote this about the principles that underpin his project:

“No person or organization shall be deprived of their ability to connect to others at will without due process of law, with the presumption of innocence until found guilty. Neither governments nor corporations should be allowed to use disconnection from the Internet as a way of arbitrarily furthering their own aims.”

The Internet Blacklist Bill — S.968, formally called the PROTECT IP Act — would violate those principles by allowing the Department of Justice to force search engines, browsers, and service providers to block users’ access to websites that have been accused of facilitating intellectual property infringement — without even giving them a day in court.  It would also give IP rights holders a private right of action, allowing them to sue to get sites prevented from operating.  Demand Progress’s new mash-up, posted here, explains the bill in more detail.

S.968 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Ron Wyden (D-OR) is temporarily blocking it from getting a floor vote by using a procedural maneuver known as a hold, noting that “By ceding control of the internet to corporations through a private right of action, and to government agencies that do not sufficiently understand and value the internet, PIPA represents a threat to our economic future and to our international objectives.”

The House is expected to take up a version of the legislation in coming weeks.

“We encourage Americans to mark this 20th birthday of the World Wide Web by defending the principles that underpinned its creation — now under persistent threat by overzealous governments and corporate interests across the globe,” said Demand Progress executive director David Segal.  “In particular, the Internet Blacklist Bill would undermine the basic integrity of the Web, and we expect Congress to take it up when they return from their summer break.”

More than 400,000 Demand Progress members have urged their lawmakers to oppose the Internet Blacklist Bill.  You can email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to oppose S.968 by clicking here.