Letter to Congress regarding SOPA

On 15 November, over 60 civil and human rights organizations, including Virtual Activism, wrote a letter to Congress  urging the rejection of SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act ]. The following is part of the text of the letter sent to Congress:

Re: H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act
Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Conyers,

As press freedom and human rights advocates, we write to express our deep concern with H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

While this is a domestic bill, there are several provisions within SOPA that would have serious implications for international civil and human rights which raise concerns about how the United States is approaching global internet governance.

The United States has long been a strong advocate for the protection and promotion of an open Internet. However, by institutionalizing the use of internet censorship tools to enforce domestic law in the United States creates a paradox that undermines its moral authority to criticize repressive regimes.1 We urge the United States to uphold its proclaimed responsibility as a leader in internet freedom and reject bills that will censor or fragment the web.


Download the full text of the letter below.

Meanwhile the European Parliament warned of global dangers of US domain revocation proposals. Responding to an intervention by EDRi (video, speech (PDF) at a hearing recently on attacks against computer systems, the European Parliament today adopted, by a large majority, a resolution on the upcoming EU/US summit stressing “the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”

According to EDRI, this situation is now turning critical, with legislative proposals such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act claiming worldwide jurisdiction for domain names and IP addresses. The definitions in SOPA are so broad that, ultimately, it could be interpreted in a way that would mean that no online resource in the global Internet would be outside US jurisdiction.

The resolution will now be forwarded by the President of the Parliament to the to the European Council, the European Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the US Congress, the co-chairs of the Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue and the co-chairs and secretariat of the Transatlantic Economic Council.