Recently, I received an invitation to attend a victory party inMemphisto celebrate a grassroots victory over a senate bill which would have gutted net neutrality and would have subsequently subjected internet users, internet businesses and internet “bloggers” to the censorship whims of various communications firms (e.g., Verizon Wireless, A T & T, Bell South, etc.). A strong grassroots movement gathered nearly 2 million signatures and prevented this lame-duck congress from privatizing the internet at the expense of the American public’s right to self-expression. Now, it seems that the net-neutrality victory celebration may have been premature thanks to Arizona Senator, John McCain.
John McCain has introduced a bill that would fine bloggers up to $300,000 for “offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards”.
If passed, this legislation will be the end for previously unrestrained opinions. Hiding behind the pretense of protecting our children, McCain’s legislation is referred to as the “Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act.” The legislation demands that a Stalinist-type army of informants and spies will browse various websites looking for inappropriate internet material which might pose a threat to children. McCain’s internet army will then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities and subsequent bloggers could be fined $300,000 or face jail time.
Anyone who has participated in online comment boards are keenly aware that they are very difficult to moderate. Some articles and news events may receive thousands of comments. Yet, one oversight by the moderator, one day off from the internet, could spell doom for the financial future of a blogger. What citizen can afford to take that chance? Hence, your right to self-expression has been sacrificed. Your first amendment right to self-expression is technically still intact. However, the personal affordability to exercise free speech has been severely jeopardized
Under the provisions of this bill, a site like www.republicbroadcasting.org could be neutered because of language or images that a child may view. This new bill will make it possible to silence critics of the establishment. If for example, a third political party, or a group opposed to the McCain supported Iraq War, could be theoretically silenced by “war-supporting saboteurs” who would deliberately post messages on anti-war websites which could be considered to be “offensive” and thereby result in the shutting down of the website and subject the owner to financial ruin. Of course the Republicans and Democrats would NEVER resort to such tricks to silence their critics, now would they? Also, ask yourself this important question; who gets to decide what is offensive?
If this bill passes, this will be the kiss of death for internet freedom as we know it today.
John McCain is on record for having opposed net-neutrality and actively promoted the privatization of the internet. In his second run at internet freedom, the real John McCain is finally showing his true colors. He has been masquerading as a moderate and now that he has apparently brokered a back-room deal with the Republican party, in order to gain support for his run at the presidency, he is playing by their agenda. McCain has become more George Bush-like than George Bush, himself, as he has undoubtedly become the new neocon lap dog for the extreme right wing of the Republican party which will not happy until your right to self-expression has been totally and permanently removed.
If you will not stand up against this oppression, who will?
If not now, then when?
If not this issue, then what issue will move you to action?
Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2235
Fax: (202) 228-2862