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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Our View: Stop online restriction acts

  • Anybody who spent some time on the internet Wednesday may have noticed a few major websites that either shut down entirely or altered their sites in protest of two new proposals in Congress that critics say could be devastating to a free and open web.


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  • Anybody who spent some time on the internet Wednesday may have noticed a few major websites that either shut down entirely or altered their sites in protest of two new proposals in Congress that critics say could be devastating to a free and open web.
     
    Google had a big black bar through its name while Wikepedia went totally dark. Some others also displayed various forms of protest.
    The two bills – SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and the Senate’s Protect IP (intellectual property) Act – are meant to stop the problem of foreign websites that sell pirated or counterfeit goods.
     
    That is a real concern, but we and many others see the proposals as overreaching. The regulations would not only increase costs for legitimate web businesses, but threaten free and open speech on the internet.
    The two proposals have some legislative support, but also vocal critics, including Kansas 2nd District Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents Leavenworth County. Jenkins issued a statement Wednesday about the House SOPA bill.
    “Since its inception, the internet has educated millions, connected people across the world, toppled corrupt dictatorships, and made millionaires out of garage entrepreneurs,” Jenkins stated. “There can be no doubt that the internet has proven to be one of the greatest harbingers of free speech, free expression, free enterprise and the American Dream the world has ever known.”
     
    “Yet today, in the halls of Congress, some are pushing misguided legislation that could crush the internet with gratuitous regulations, stifle it with censorship, and open the door for rampant legal abuse, all under the guise of stopping online piracy. Copyright infringements and online piracy are legitimate issues that should and can be addressed, but we need to do it without fundamentally destroying the internet as we know it.
     
    “I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form, will vigorously fight any efforts to advance it and will vote against it if it comes to the floor of the House.”
    We could not have said it better.
     
    Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran also criticized the legislation Wednesday. He spoke at Think Big Partners Gigabit Challenge in Kansas City and said he is the first Republican to sponsor alternative legislation called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN), which creates uniform and targeted online infringement policies that will help protect intellectual property rights – without threatening the thriving internet marketplace.
     
    Jenkins and Moran are absolutely correct on this issue and should be applauded for their outspoken opposition. Moran’s new proposal needs more scrutiny before it can be evaluated, but both lawmakers are right to protect a free and open internet for both consumers and businesses.
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