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Poll Results: Should the U.S. federal government censor the Internet?

See how your TechRepublic peers answered this question: Should the U. S. federal government censor the Internet?

On November 24, 2010, I asked the readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog this poll question:

Should the U.S. federal government censor the Internet?

The poll question was really about a bill winding its way through the U.S. federal legislative process called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). If it were to become law, the Federal Department of Justice of the United States could effectively take down an entire website by blocking access via the DNS servers. ISPs would remove the offending website from the DNS or be liable for fines and other legal actions.

I am squarely against the bill because I think it gives too much power to corporations and the government. As the bill is currently written, it effectively cuts out the cherished U.S. Constitutional principle of due process and it would undoubtedly be challenged on those grounds. I am also dubious at its effectiveness at reducing copyright infringement, because the technology savvy can work around its enforcement.

Judging by the respondents to the poll, I am not alone in my thinking. The bill is still pending in the U.S Congress, what should be done about it?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

77 comments
jhouse
jhouse

Definitely Not!!! Too many freedoms disappearing.

by.gad
by.gad

Who made the US government world police. We still have the US Constitution

BlueCollarCritic
BlueCollarCritic

I can't believe any American (Legal citizen) would even contemplate the idea of saying yes to any legislation that would violate any of our rights and protections especially if its touted as being necessary for the greater good. The framers of our Constitution did not say you have the right to Free inoffensive and generally good will like speech but to "Free speech". You do not have the right to not be offended nor do you have the right to blame someone else for your actions because they said something that caused you to act poorly. The old "It's for the greater good that we must curtail your freedoms just a little" is the first step down the road to tyranny and suppression. And if you think it can't happen here you aren't alone. Prior to Hitler the Germans were intelligent and well rounded, logical people. They too believe it could not happen there and so they bought into everything the government told them until it was one day too late to undo the damage. We already have "Free Speech Zones" which are a violation of our first amendment right to free speech so what's the big deal in giving up al little more if it means for the greater good right? Keep in mind that it?s only a recession while your employed else it?s a depression. "A fool waits patiently in the ready only to act once it's too late. The diligent man is ever alert and watchful questioning each and every act, small and large, especially those actions that are said to be well intended or for the greater good for these are the signs of a wolf in sheep's clothing".

rdthomas_61
rdthomas_61

The USA Government already censors the internet. Try finding something in South Africa or other parts of the world that the USA government feels is a bad country

kevsan
kevsan

it may be an interesting battle. The Republican controlled Congress is attempting to force all bills to include a reference to which part of the US Constitution makes a bill legal. Whoever attempts to get this censorship bill through may have a tough time finding that reference. If such a bill was passed I reckon the Supreme Court will be making the final decision. On the other hand the USA cannot force censorship outside it's own boundaries. Waste of time, waste of tax payer's money and the question that should be asked is why bother when it cannot work.

911grandpa
911grandpa

Where's the FREEDOM of Press to express what is on our minds?

brucer
brucer

No, taking away our rights is not the answer. There is a solution to the piracy problem....we just have to find it.

pirate?
pirate?

Hello! They can do it already. We just don't hear about it. If "echelon" exists -- and it does -- they already know who does what. They can hack the Internet DNS root servers anytime they want to. Do you really think the unexplained "can't locate server" messages are simple glitches? This legislation is simply to prevent "healing" the DNS root servers after an attack had been made. That is not to say that other governments and terrorist groups are not doing the same things.

old graham
old graham

It is in the nature of those in power to control. It is in the nature of the individual to wish to do as they like. The U.S. was originally settled by those escaping control (religious groups). From early in its history, the government of the U.S. has sought to control and limit the power of any individual or group or country seen as not acting in the government's best interests. Who governs the government? I am not a citizen of the U.s. I am a citizen of a country that once ruled the world. Look on my works ye mighty and despair.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Any such attempts only address the symptoms of the problem at hand. Did the prohibition work? Do laws prohibiting drugs work? Do laws against piracy work? Do padlocks work? Until the source of man's corruption is addressed, no attempt to address the symptoms will work.

langstonha
langstonha

No censor please. Big brother is already running everything. FBI is monitoring everything.

jason
jason

do the U.S know that their are other country's in the world and what gaves them the right to censor the internet.

deICERAY
deICERAY

88% say no, yet a few hundred in Gridlock, DC say YES, so where's the representation? Even the FCC, if you watched the press conference on C-Span, was bitterly divided on this, and it is obviously a puppet org run by lobbyists. People, this is your TAX DOLLARS being spent by big business. Wake up!

alex_mcglynn
alex_mcglynn

And how will the US government enforce this law against the rest of the world. I and many others are fed up with the US trying to enforce their standards; or lack thereof; on Non-American citizens. As far as I am concerned the US can get stuffed!

MASTERPICEUSA1
MASTERPICEUSA1

The U. S. federal government should not be in the business of censoring the Internet, It is a death sentence for freedom of speech. It would not solve the problem anyway People buy DVD's and software all the time. If they decide to give it to anyone there is nothing anyone can do about it. We have shrink DVD to copy movies and Magix to copy music. This stuff moves so fast by the time anything get's copied it is defunked old software movies etc... No one in this country is smart enough to open their eyes and see the deal Bill Gates made with congress to keep Microsoft out of hot water for espionage against everyone. The brit's have won all three cases against them for this. Only the call it anti trust here not to arouse total suspicion Microsoft use's Hackers to hack everything. Linux Mac your phone. Your On-star etc If Microsoft was ever raided they would find US Top secret doc's that would undermine every country. Every thing they produce is purposely broken. It can be fixed but I am not in that field any longer. No one seems to care. So it just has to take place till it is so bad there is a outcry for heads to roll. Even this sight techrepublic won?t post anything that rails against monksoft. I don't expect them to post this. It is a sorry way of censorship. But i do repost it on other sites. The best thing every one can do is not let adobe update their site players and stay off twit shit and my space crap. Block visual basic active-x and edit their java player. That would kill 70% of the viruses. do not buy in to Microsoft office products, There are free office products that run circles around office 2003 07 10 and 11. The smartest people never get paid for there work, The dumbest people are always in office. Matters not what party it is. Look at it this way, We are stupid We give our blood sweat and tears for paper And it is not worth anything When the politicians hold the Gold if the paper burns they just print more. But if the gold is looked at hard they want to shoot us all. Don?t spend money on censoring and take it to feed the starving people rite here in the USA Get a clue. Sue for your right to have health care. And a roof over your heads Masterpiece

fnewtz
fnewtz

Maybe it's time to rethink the copyright process. e.g., ereader authors and publishers believe it's not okay to share books purchased on ereaders. However, it is okay to do so when purchasing a book at the bookstore. Why the difference? Seems to me that the internet is similar to the playground. All these companies making up the rules (to suit them) as they go along. Else, they'll take their football and go home. My attitude? Let them have it and tell them not to come back.

michalshome
michalshome

No the Feds are wearing pants too big as it is.

nbdov68
nbdov68

I guess the U.S. government learn that from the Chinese Government. The Chinese government want to limit or band the service such as Skype because the Chinese government is loosing money (they own and operate China Mobile and China Trust phone services). If the U.S. government is going to start censor the internet, what's next?

Anelly
Anelly

they should not censor the internet. but if they will, i will use the right technology to bypass the filter ;-) http://www.ibvpn.com

nospam.online
nospam.online

They can?t "censor" themselves how could they possible do it for the internet. if they just enforced the laws on the books right now they could cut the current level of if in the USA but nothing they do will effect it for the rest of the world. How they going to bring down the piracy and child porn in Russia? This is just more Socialism from this mistake of an administration. I thank God I can see 2012 from my yard and pray the rest of the country starts to see it sooner then later. Anyone for tea?

Islander-O
Islander-O

If you think that Military and Intelligence do not monitor Internet traffic, think again. They do it with or without your concent. The censorship of mass media already exists. So, Internet is just another field of activity.

arthurtoms
arthurtoms

I can see no justification whatsoever for the US government censoring the internet as it applies to me - I'm in New Zealand, and as far as I'm concerned that's outside US jurisdiction. Maybe, on the other hand, we in NZ should censor the internet in the USA?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

There should be no censorship - however any site with illegal activity should be shut down. The government [or an agency] should also have the option to force operators of DNS servers to block site with illegal activities for those site that reside outside the US.

BlueCollarCritic
BlueCollarCritic

They're working hard to fix that problem, the Constitution that is. Too many buy into the lies fed (via mainstream media) to the public on a daily basis. For those who still buy into these lies that the recession is over and that things will turn around and worst of all that America will keep its lead in the world here are a few facts for you that the mainstream media interestingly enough likes to not mention or put on page 52 of the least read part of the paper. FACTS: 1)A totalitarian from of government cannot succeed if the people are informed and armed. 2)To beat the Informed part you have to use disinformation and control the information that is available. 3)So long as the populace is armed the government fears being ousted so the government must ban all private ownership of guns however it can. 4) The only thing preventing America from becoming another example of what happens to a country when its debts exceed its income (i.e Weimar Republic in 1919 Germany) is the fact that as of current (this is changing) the world reserve currency is in US Dollars which means banks are forced to hold US Currency Here's a very interesting bit of info about the Weimar Republic when things were at their worst, when 1 US Dollar was equal to millions/billions of Wiemar Dollars called Marks. Tell me this doesn't sound very much like what we see going on with our own government. "The last years of the Weimar Republic were stamped by even more political instability than in the previous years. The administrations of Chancellors Br'ning, Papen, Schleicher and Hitler (from 30 January-23 March 1933) governed through presidential decree, rather than through consultation with the Reichstag (the German parliament)." Our own Executive Orders process, a very popular tool of the US President, are a form of presidential decree. So what did Germany do to get past this economic low' The passage of the Enabling Act (as in enabling those in power to do as they please) in 1933. "The passage of the Enabling Act of 1933 is widely considered to mark the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the Third Reich. It empowered the cabinet to legislate without the approval of Reichstag or the President, and to enact laws that were contrary to the constitution." So the leadership pushed for changes that would let them do whatever they liked including those actions that were unconstitutional. Things like curtailing free speech (because we can't allow hate speech that might incite someone). There were 3 factors that lead to the plunge of the Weimar Republic into its Nazi days; Economic Problems, Institutional Problems and Role of Individuals (leaders). Sounds very similar to what we are seeing now. Unlike the Germans though we have the benefit of TV and professional sports, both of which are 24/7, to keep us distracted from what's happening. If you think 'It could never happen in America' then you aren't thinking. A combination of a serious economic downturn for which the debt cannot be overcome, combined with a public use to government provided services in one form or another can very easily lead to the people agreeing to anything on the promise that it will make things better like they used to be. The road to tyranny is paved with good intentions and the first good intention is to curtail free speech in the name of stopping so called hate speech and inciting speech. Next will be debatable speech and or confrontational speech. The last will be to curtail unapproved speech for we cannot let the desires of a few try to prevent the government form working towards our recovery, right' I mean if the recovery isn't working and the politicians say it's because of the counter speech inciting anti-0governement approval do you think for one second a large number of government dependent people won't vote to curtail this last vestige of free speech for nothing more than a promise of better times being just around the corner' It's happened before and can easily be done again. Same method, same approach, same result, just a different place.

dayen
dayen

Goverment is evil by default and must be watch and knock them down when they have too much power, vote them out of office if they say obey me kick them out of the country, send them were little Hitlers should go!

Keighlar
Keighlar

Can you imagine how many bills would disappear if they actually had to reference it Constitutionally and not simply offer an ambiguous justification? I LOVE that idea! That step alone would begin the shrinking of our massive government sinkhole that's so desperately needed.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

I am. Nobody said you can't expess your mind. You just aren't supposed to be giving copyright material to everyone on the Internet.

JamesRL
JamesRL

And express what you want to on it. You are not able to force someone else's press to publish whatever you want.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

....everyone say it with me now....personal responsibility and ethics (don't steal that which is not yours). And if you get caught stealing it anyway don't whine about it just accept your punishment.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

control of Religious groups they were escaping control of Governments that were trying to control their religion.

1pataz
1pataz

Bingo! I've been waiting for someone to say this. So often we concentrate on only the symptoms and ignore the disease itself. Human tribalism needs to become a thing of the past.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

I better run home and find a new hiding place for my stash of 80's vintage porn.

laura.walker
laura.walker

If anyone of us ever invents a TimeMachine, would you please go back in time to Thursday, Nov. 19th, 1863 and advise President Lincoln to modify his speech ending to read as...... "that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion?that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain?that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom?and that government of 'business', by 'business', for 'business', shall not perish from the earth."

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

Who would have thought? They aren't trying to censor your Internet. They are trying to censor our (US) connection to it. They want to be able to block access to websites conducting illegal activities so people in the US can't get to them. They do this by using DNS servers. Your DNS servers would still allow you to connect to the website, unless the website is in the US. Don't get me wrong I don't like the idea of the Government blocking anything but I'm just pointing out that you would still have access to the kiddie porn site in Russia.

homesjc
homesjc

If WikiLeaks is any indication, the assumption of transnational control or even the attempted extension of perceived rights and privileges into other national spaces by the USA is not on. This includes the reference that the USA attempted to use all means available to ensure that Monsanto got its GMO?s into Europe against EU policy. Of course the history of the interference by US corporations in the ?banana republics? should also be considered. So why any special rights should be allowed with out the full agreement of others? I guess the history of the Sterling Standard needs to be remembered when empires start to get too top heavy. Also copyright can become copy-it-right as a mark of civil disobedience.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

Big Government not Big Business. Big Business pay taxes Big Government spends taxes and wants more.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

but they are coming to get you. Paranoia will destroy ya. I've decided you are a bumbling idiot or deeply disturbed. How can you turn a conversation about Copyright infringement into getting shot for looking at Gold, Microsoft Spying, Starving People, Health care and roofs over heads? Although I agree about staying off of Twitter and MySpace. Right to health care? Who says you don't have a right to health care? Just the opposite....You can't be refused service if you walk into an emergency room. Oh you mean you want me to pay for your care because you don't want to take care of yourself? Who says you don't have a right to have a roof over your head? Oh that's right, I forgot about the law that Congress just passed that states that MASTERPICEUSA1 is not allowed to have a roof on his house. He can have walls but no roof. Dude learn to take care of yourself and stop waiting for Government hand outs or move to a country that already does this for you.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Not sure how to respond to this rant. But I will specifically say one thing - TechRepublic will not remove this post from this discussion and TechRepublic points out the bad in Microsoft software often, when it is warranted.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

I buy one old fashion book and share it with a million of my closest buddies. The author gets $4.33 cents out of the $29.99 cover price after paying the publisher and printing company. Sharing one hard cover book with a million friends is pretty hard to do, not to mention when the book gets back to you a few pages might be missing or will be unreadable because so and so spilled cofee on it. Now if I download the book to my wonderful new Kindle and I share the file with a million of my friends (which can be done rather quickly) I don't have to give up my copy and everybody has a nice new shiney book to read with no coffee stains or missing pages. The author still only gets $4.33 for his hard work. As an author that relies on the fruits of his intellectual property. which one of these scenarios is more likely to cause you to loose the most money? Loaning a book to someone to read is perfectly fine. Reproducing that book and giving it to other people is not. See the difference?

Teako
Teako

I liked copyright laws as they were originally intended. 75 years and it was public domain. Fundamwentally, you profitted from your work as long as you were alive and that was it. Then Micky Mouse came along and since corporations don;t have to die, they want copyrights forever. B.S.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

think they are watching that too?

Teako
Teako

WTF are you talking about?

darkstate
darkstate

A few years back didn't one of your countries communications companies get hacked by the government? I think they had a part of the building cloned so all the communications was going through it? I can't remember the company sorry, But If you want to know what country wide censorship is like,just look at china,Iran and a few other god fearing countries. Can you Imagine the most powerful country on planet earth being like them? Hehe neither can I, America would become the retard of the Internet, I use the word retard meaning the slowest developer, purely because the government would stifle every aspect of development known to business. Good luck America, you will need It.

unixwolf.edu
unixwolf.edu

NO ONE GROUP CAN BE TRUSTED TO NOT MISUSE THIS KIND OF POWER; WITHOUT THE PROPER OVERSIGHT (CHECKS AND BALANCES)!!!

mj9129
mj9129

I would not suggest shutting down the website but using what is found to fight the crime. Once prosecuted and found guilty, the site likely will go away of its own accord.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Its illegal to run an online gaming site in the US and Canada. Does that mean the government should block any and all online gaming sites?

homesjc
homesjc

Copyright is only defined by that civilization which defines it and is purely a creature of that civilization. I would suggest that there is a need for a full discussion as to what it copyright and for how long it exists. My country accepted a 20 year extension of copyright when we negotiated a treaty with the US. The citizens were not consulted. The main beneficiaries are the descendants of the original copyright holders. If you want good innovation, reduce the duration of copyright and patents. Interesting to discuss this in the light of postmodernism.

old graham
old graham

Yes. That's what I meant. I should have made it clearer.

pirate?
pirate?

First, Big Business pays proportionately less taxes than individuals do. Second, what taxes they do "pay" come from the price increases WE PAY as consumers.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

Government taking care of you the Citizen. Usually means cradle to grave. Don't want to work? Don't worry you can now chase your dream to become a Guitar player because Nancy Pelosi gave you Health Care. She actually said something to that affect after the health care bill was passed. Socialism the Government knows what is best for you so we don't want you visiting that website, you might see a picture of bacon and want to eat it so we are banning all websites that show pictures of bacon.

john3347
john3347

Is the U.S. not quite close to the "retard of the Internet" (at least among "developed" countries) now without the censorship you speak of? I frequently read of other countries with far advanced internet services and infrastructure when compared to ours. Often this comes at greatly reduced pricing compared to ours, also. With the incompetence, ineptness, and personal greed that permeates the federal government, that is not the body to have any real control over censorship or specifying acceptable and unacceptable use of the internet. Such control would have to be placed in the hands of an international committee of some sort whose members have the training and knowledge to administer needed controls properly .

Don't Read This
Don't Read This

There are Republicans who want to make being gay illegal - and if those Tea Party maniacs were to get into power with a law like this in place, the Internet in the US would be a lot like it is in China.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The local lotto runs computer gambling devices in every bar in town. You can check winning numbers on their on-line website; isn't that "On-line" and "Gambling"? The bottom line is always that the state wants to be the only organized crime around. They enforce it with their gang "the boys in blue".

darkstate
darkstate

The Internet is free for the world to use, Except of course if you believe live in say Iran/china etc. And prohibited use would be a bad Idea to companies using for business. Imagine one of them not being able to get to another country that at the moment gives them great profits. Any government, as we have seen in the past, will manipulate the rules to suit them and not the people.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

and I don't want this law in place. You are confused about what the Tea Party is all about. Less Government intrusion in our lives. Sounds like regulating the Internet is more Government intrusion just the opposite. I think Liberals are the ones pushing this legislation.

dayen
dayen

That hitting the nail on the head

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