Editorial: Halloween’s scariest threats? Not razor blades or ‘rainbow’ fentanyl, but rumors and lies
After months of debate, the final text of SOPA and PIPA was released on Friday. Some of the most contentious sections were the least controversial: Internet censorship is finally dead. Many of those who died trying to stop this legislation also did so to stop censorship of their own free speech.
In a week in which the Senate’s most popular senator, Democrat Mark Warner, announced that he’ll push for a new bill focused on Internet freedom, an act of advocacy and an act of courage. This is a good sign. In other areas of the world, SOPA-inspired legislation was an abomination, whether the United States or the United Kingdom. But SOPA was not the only issue that the US should have focused its attention on.
The second-largest bill of the past month, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Instability Act (HR 4049), was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of both the Senate and the House. While his bill focused on copyright, SOPA failed to recognize the broad economic threat posed by cybercrime, and therefore failed to have any real impact. When the bill was introduced, the cyberthreat was a small, but real, one. The problem was that most of these threats were perpetrated by anonymous individuals, not well-funded corporations.
Yet there was a difference. While the problem of cybercrime was solved (somewhat) for the Internet, the original creators and users of these tools got away with no punishment. The problem is that no one person or group has the size or resources to take down these pieces of software or websites, which are used for business and profit without being the butt of jokes or accusations of censorship. What’s more, the Internet is a global communications network and if the FBI is worried about a potential terrorist’s plans to use Twitter, then there’s no reason that they can’t keep a watch on any other potential terrorist’s plans to use Twitter.
In other words, SOPA failed because it failed to address the very threat it was tasked with.
But if the U.S. isn’t willing to put resources into protecting this particular threat and its users, then