At the time of this post, the House Judiciary Committee is discussing H.R. 3261: the Stop Online Piracy Act (watch it live here), which is considered by those opposed to the legislation to be "the first American Internet censorship system."
That's why DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is among 25 House members who have cosponsored the bill and are being targeted during "American Censorship Day" -- which is today.
On its face, the bill has been described as legislation that simply helps law enforcement and internet service providers stop trademark counterfeiting, copyright infringement, or theft of trade secrets.
Opponents say it's way more than that.
Click here for an infographic from the people behind "American Censorship Day" on how they believe the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate version of the bill -- named PROTECT IP -- works, and/or check out the video below:
The "American Censorship Day" is being organized by multiple advocates of open-source software and online freedom, including Mozilla -- the maker of the web browser Firefox.
They warn that -- at least in their interpretation -- people could be jailed for up to five years for streaming a copyrighted work online, even if it's for a completely noncommercial purpose, like "singing a pop song on Facebook," according to the website.
The group also says it would give the government power to internet service providers to shut down websites if users post links that infringe on copyrights.
Therefore, sites you visit every day could be blocked, and links through email or other means could be censored, intentionally of not.
The thought among several technology writers is that the bill would undermine the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, especially its "safe harbor" provisions -- which was being discussed in the Judiciary Committee starting around 12:40 p.m. today.
A CNET writer also obtained a letter from representatives of AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo!, and Zynga, basically telling several members of the Judiciary Committee to throw that legislation into the garbage.
The bill currently has bipartisan support, with a Republican sponsor, 14 Republican cosponsors, and ten Democratic cosponsors.
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