After the Dark, World’s Leading Human Rights Organizations Rally Against PIPA and SOPA
7:35am | 19 January 2012 | by Mike Rispoli,
A day after some of the world's largest websites went black to protest censorship legislation proposed in the US Congress, Access today will deliver a letter to the US Senate, signed by dozens of international human rights groups, calling on lawmakers to "stand for human rights, defend the open internet, and reject the PROTECT IP Act."
PIPA, and its companion bill in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, are dangerous proposals, crafted by the entertainment industry, and threaten free speech and the integrity of the internet in an ill-conceived attempt to combat online piracy. In an unprecedented showing of solidarity from the international community against US legislation, the letter, signed by Access, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and some 50 other human rights organizations around the world, makes clear this proposal poses a serious risk to digital rights, innovation, and the very nature of the internet.
"We understand the pressure that lawmakers face in passing copyright enforcement legislation, and agree that protecting the rights of creators is an important goal. However, enforcement should not come at the expense of free speech or due process," the letter states.
The huge international outcry against PIPA, demonstrated in this letter, shows the proposal has a far reach beyond US shores. These dozens of organizations recognize that the internet is a key enabler of human rights, free speech, and innovation, and are calling on US lawmakers to not make any decisions on its governance in haste and without fully considering the international consequences.
"We owe it to future generations around the world to make sure that the copyright industry does not determine the future of the internet," said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access. "To all US lawmakers out there: Still think this bill doesn't raise First Amendment concerns? Read this letter."
The Senate bill is scheduled for a cloture vote on Jan. 24. Among the oft-mentioned provisions, such as DNS filtering, PIPA will subject nearly every U.S.-based actor on the internet to its enforcement, including not only blogs, chat rooms, and social networks but users as well. Beyond that, the role of sites allowing users to post links would dramatically change by forcing these sites to proactively monitor and censor their own users.
These are serious concerns of the international human rights community, as it sets "a dangerous precedent for other countries."
"This proposal is possibly one of the largest threats to internet freedom ever," said Jochai Ben-Avie, Access Policy Director. "A vote against this legislation is not a vote for piracy. It's a vote to protect the internet."
Access is an international NGO that promotes open access to the internet as a means to free, full and safe participation in society and the realization of human rights. For more information, please contact Access Campaign and Media Strategist Mike Rispoli at 732-890-5564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.