Adrian Lopez writes: "Techdirt reports that 'apparently, the folks behind SOPA are really scared to hear from the opposition. We all expected that the Judiciary Committee hearings wouldn't be a fair fight. In Congress, they rarely are fair fights. But most people expected the typical "three in favor, one against" weighted hearings. That's already childish, but it seems that the Judiciary Committee has decided to take the ridiculousness to new heights. We'd already mentioned last week that the Committee had rejected the request of NetCoalition to take part in the hearings. At the time, we'd heard that the hearings were going to be stacked four-to-one in favor of SOPA. However, the latest report coming out of the Committee is that they're so afraid to actually hear about the real opposition that they've lined up five pro-SOPA speakers and only one "against."'
Demand Progress is running an online petition against such lopsided representation."
Adrian Lopez writes: According to Techdirt: "Over the weekend, we started getting a bunch of reports from folks claiming that the dynamic DNS service afraid.org had been seized in the latest DHS/ICE domain seizures, and that all of the sites associated with afraid.org had been replaced with a notice that they had been seized over child porn claims. The main site involved was mooo.com. If you're unfamiliar with the way these dynamic DNS services work, they basically let you put a permanent URL, often using a subdomain like putsomesubdomainhere.mooo.com, and then you point it at whatever machine is actually hosting your content. For some folks and some projects, it's easier than getting your own full URL. But, of course, as a service, it can point to just about any kind of content. Remember, afraid isn't hosting any of this stuff. It's basically just acting as a directory."
When they asked the Department of Homeland Security about it, they got a non-responsive reply: "I sent off a quick email to a press contact at Homeland Security, asking a simple question: did Homeland Security seize — and then unseize — the mooo.com domain? It seemed like a simple yes or no question, and given that Homeland Security is a part of the Obama administration, which has promised the utmost transparency, I figured the least it could do was provide that simple answer. Instead, the response I got was: 'I need to refer you to DOJ for a response to your question.'"
Adrian Lopez writes: A bill giving the government the power to shut down Web sites that host materials that infringe copyright is making its way quietly through the lame-duck session of Congress, raising the ire of free-speech groups and prompting a group of academics to lobby against the effort.
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was introduced in Congress this fall by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It would grant the federal government the power to block access to any Web domain that is found to host copyrighted material without permission.
Opponents note that the powers given the government under the bill are very broad. Because the bill targets domain names and not specific materials, an entire Web site can be shut down. So for example, if the US determines that there are copyright-infringing materials on YouTube, it could theoretically block access to all of YouTube, whether or not particular material being accessed infringes copyright.
Adrian Lopez writes: The Internet blacklist bill known as COICA is up for vote on Thursday, with the first vote to be conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators for California, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois will be the key votes in deciding whether COICA passes. Residents of those states are encouraged to contact their senators and let them know they oppose the bill.
COICA would let the US Attorney General create a blacklist of domains that every American ISP would be required to block. Wikileaks, YouTube, and others are all at risk. Human rights advocates, constitutional law experts, and the people who invented the Internet have all spoken out against this bill — but some of the most powerful industries in the country are demanding that Congress rush it through. The music industry is even having all of their employees call Congress to pose as citizens in support of the bill.
This bill is as bad for Americans and bad for the Internet. The decision to take down US and foreign websites shouldn't rest with the US Attorney General, and it should never be as easy as adding a website to a central list.
Adrian Lopez writes: PC World reports that US Senator John McCain has recently introduced legislation that "would keep the FCC from enacting rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet content and applications."
"McCain, an Arizona Republican, called the proposed net neutrality rules a 'government takeover' of the Internet that will stifle innovation and depress an 'already anemic' job market in the U.S. McCain was the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and Obama has said net neutrality rules are among his top tech priorities."
Adrian Lopez writes: PC World reports that "one of the 13 security bulletins Microsoft released Tuesday affects not only Internet Explorer (IE), but also Firefox, thanks to a Microsoft-made plug-in pushed to Firefox users eight months ago in an update delivered via Windows Update."
The plugin in question — The.NET Framework Assistant — and its security implications for Firefox users were discussed on Slashdot several months ago. It would seem that people's worst fears have come true.
Adrian Lopez writes: PC World reports that 'technology research company Eolas Technolgies, which won a US$520.6 million patent infringement case against Microsoft in 2003, has filed a new patent lawsuit against 22 companies including Adobe Systems, Google, Yahoo, Apple, eBay and Amazon.com.
Imagine a Web without AJAX or embedded applications and ask yourself whether the claim that patents do not stifle innovation is at all sustainable.