Jan 08 2012

End of the Line?

Published by at 5:04 am under Politics,Rants,Sad

Readers of this blog may not be aware that 4d2.org is not just where I post my crappy personal screeds; it’s also a hosting provider. Last month I posted the message below on our front page, and I’d like to repost it here as the US Congress prepares to resume its legislative session for the new year.

An appeal to our visitors

For the past ten years, I have operated an independent website at this address. For the past six, the operations of 4d2 dot org have met the current legal definition of an Internet Service Provider. I am proud of the fact that we have provided hosting to a number of individuals and groups who might not otherwise have had a voice on the Internet.

Perhaps this “mission” of ours has become less important and less interesting as Internet presence has become cheap and ubiquitous; however we are still receiving requests every few weeks from people who are interested in joining us. Even though our members have often posted contentious material, we have never placed restrictions on the free speech of anyone we have hosted, thanks in large part to the freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution of the United States of America, from which we operate.

Today there is a distinct possibility that we will lose those freedoms. At this moment, the U.S. Congress is debating the “Stop Online Piracy Act” bill. Disguised as an effort to combat online piracy, this bill will in fact grant the government broad-reaching power to censor and control the Internet in unprecedented ways. It places onerous restrictions on small Internet Service Providers like us — restrictions with which we have no reasonable means of complying. This bill will require us to adhere to a government-mandated “blacklist” of forbidden websites, preventing our users from accessing these websites by any means within our control. Because we provide Internet access to our customers via shell sessions, virtual desktop sessions, proxy systems, DNS lookups and other means, we will be required to comply with these unreasonable restrictions if this bill becomes law. For our administrative staff of one, this is an unmanageable burden.

Every major Internet advocacy organization has spoken out against SOPA. The creators of the Internet have even expressed their categorical opposition. Yet, the future of the Internet — a revolutionary open forum which we have all helped shape into what it is today — is being decided even now by a group of politicians, most of whom do not know the difference between a website and an inbox. If government truly does derive from the consent of the governed, there is no evidence of it today. The future of a medium rests squarely in the hands of people who do not understand, do not care, and answer only to their corporate benefactors.

I am writing this note because I believe our online home is under genuine attack by my government. Although 4d2 dot org has been my project, I like to think that a piece of it belongs to all of us who have used it as a meeting place over the years. If SOPA is passed in its current form, the future of this project is deeply uncertain. As a U.S. citizen, I cannot legally fail to enforce the restrictions imposed by SOPA, but as a conscionable and reasonably intelligent denizen of the Internet I categorically refuse to enforce them. If this bill becomes law, I may be left with no reasonable option but to shut down 4d2 dot org, at least in its current form.

I would like to encourage all of you who are citizens of the United States of America to read more about this bill, and if you agree with me to write or call your Congresspeople and express your displeasure with this bill and for the appalingly broken process that has brought it to the floor of the House.

Sincerely Yours
Michael Proctor
December 15, 2011
michael@4d2.org

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