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PROTECT IP: Sharper claws, better name

Everyone in DC knows that if you want to give your bill a good shot at passing, you need two things:

  • A good acronym.
  • A good defense against the charge that your legislation will essentially shut down the free and open Internet as we know it.

Seeing as it had neither, so it was that COICA (the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act) died a meek death-by-Senatorial-hold last fall. The idea behind the bill was to shut down or block sites that traffic in pirated goods. Tech-free-speech's reliable guardian in the Senate, Ron Wyden (D-OR) called it "a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile," largely because it seemed pretty vague on just what constituted an infringing site.

But COICA has been reborn and remade, including what appears to be a heavy investment by Senate staffers in coming up with the holy grail of any legislation: A hugely long acronym that also happens to spell out words related to the actual bill: the "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property" act, or (drumroll) PROTECT IP. Let us all pause a moment to acknowledge this remarkable legislative achievement...

...mmmm....yeah.... Oh, right -- the bill. Anyway, it gets more specific on what qualifies as an offending site (just linking to a pirate-vending site would not necessarily get you in hot water) and how quickly and decisively the government can act without more extensive due-process.

But it also introduces a potent new weapon into the government's arsenal: a requirement that search engines take down listings of so-called "seized" domain names. Google and pals (...Bing and...Alta Vista? Jeeves was asked, but did not reply) are expected to recoil at Uncle Sam telling them how to do their job and pokinf his big finger all poking in their algorithms.

PROTECT IP has bipartisan support, but may yet be in for a bumpy ride. Remember: when backed against a wall, staffers, just point to the acronym.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
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Protect IP has nothing to do with protecting American citizens, nor protecting a corporations products. Its an ill conceived, shoot from the hip haphazard solution though-up by non tech-savvy government lackeys; that will create more problems that it solves. It can and will be used by our government for other reasons aside from protecting corporate resources, we will find out in the coming months that this same technology (Blacklisting)will be used to limit sights the US deems to be a threat, sites like http://www.wikileaks.org, then it becomes a slippery slope, what other sites will find their way into into blacklist?

The USA use to stand for freedom for we-the- people and in the last 12 years or so, we have lost many of those freedoms with laws that were suppose to protect us and make us safer (patriot Act- Also a great name)but in actually we are no safer then before,its all a well played illusion to sell the American individual a feel good solution that will protect us from the boogie man.

Time to wake up America before its gone.

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