Imagine that a group of people who don’t drive much, don’t understand how cars work under the hood, and have never studied traffic engineering decide that they’re going to stop speeding by requiring that cars automatically slam on the emergency brake and lock the controls the moment they exceed the speed limit — or the moment someone reports that the car has exceeded the speed limit.

Note that I didn’t say anything about turning the engine off, or putting it in neutral. Or only doing so in places where the speed limit is properly posted. Or worrying about whether there’s a car behind them that will have to slam on their own breaks to prevent a pile-up. Or actually checking that the car really is speeding before acting on the report.

Now imagine that criticisms and objections raised by actual drivers, the auto industry, traffic engineers, highway planners, and city planners are all dismissed as speeder propaganda.

That’s basically what’s going on with the “anti-piracy” bills being discussed in the House (SOPA) and Senate (PIPA/Protect IP).

(Posted yesterday on Tumblr)

If you live in the US and you use the Internet, you need to know about this. There are two proposed laws, SOPA and Protect IP, that would set up a system to block access to websites deemed to be “infringing,” in the name of stopping piracy. Of course, “infringing” could refer to the actions of one user on a large site, like, say, Facebook or Wikipedia. Imagine if someone at Warner Bros. filed a complaint about someone’s fan art on DeviantArt, and the government blocked access to the entire site. Sort of like shutting down an entire mall because one shopper was accused (not even proven!) of wearing a counterfeit Rolex.

Of course, once a system like this is in place, we all know it’ll never be abused, right?

And that’s not even getting into the technical implications of the bills, which would put an extra burden on tech startups and actually undermine efforts by the US government itself to make the internet more secure.

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