Last Wednesday, January 18th, ironically, the same day as the internet blackout protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protection of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), California Republican Representative, Darrell Issa quietly introduced the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) HR.3782 to the house floor. Senator Ron Wyden, a democrat from Oregon, has already introduced the Act to the US Senate, as well, and you are still probably asking, “What does OPEN really mean?”
You may not have heard of it yet, but OPEN is actually making an effort to live up to its title. In fact, KeepTheWebOpen is a site set up by Issa that displays the approximately 20 page bill in its entirety on the site’s homepage and asks for comments and suggestions. The site is also complete with video endorsements from Wyden and other congressmen, and has already received the support of tech giants likes Google, Twitter, and Facebook. So, what is the difference between OPEN and the other acts that were so ill-received?
In what some may observe as an overly-simplified chart that compares the three different acts, KeepTheWebOpen.com points out that OPEN will resolve violations of intellectual property rights with the use of IP experts. The chart does not include to what extent US companies will be held liable if they do not remove the content from what has been deemed an infringing site.
However, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade act (which notably, has an “N” in the acronym, but not in the title when spelled out), is most notably different from the others in that it will directly correspond with the International Trade Commission. If the ITC finds that a foreign registered site violates the intellectual property rights of a US citizen, it will demand the domestic payment processor, like Visa or PayPal, and the site that advertises the site, like Google, to stop. The bill primarily addresses the copyright subject as an issue of import trade, however, still seems very vague in regard to action taken against domestic sites violating copyright law.
Critics say that the bill perhaps, is too open, and in fact, the vague language could leave sites more vulnerable than SOPA and PIPA would have in the long run. One commenter states on InfoWars, “’Reasonable Belief’ and credible evidence’ are too vague and have the appearance of inviting highly subjective interpretation with the option for the commission and/or the provider to exercise sweeping powers of impunity.”
Furthermore, other critics are concerned about the global affects of blocking out foreign sites. Could this be a way to ultimately censor foreign information (i.e. the first step to Chinese internet censorship?). Will a crack down on these trade laws intensify poor foreign relations with powerful trade countries like China and India?
It seems that if the big internet players, like Google and Wikipedia are comfortable with abiding by direct authority from the ITC, then the bill is perhaps the best answer to SOPA and PIPA. . At least it is “open” and available to the public, right? You decide.
Taylor Hazlehurst is a guest author here covering a wide array of issues. The content of this article was provided by Cyber Security Degree Programs where issues like PIPA, SOPA and the OPEN act are daily issues for people in cyber security jobs. With the popularity of regulation like SOPA, jobs in the security arena are seeing an upward spike in trends when compared to other potential careers. If you have a passion about Internet issues like SOPA, OPEN or PIPA you should take a close look at Cyber Security Programs to help become part of the industry and steer your Internet’s future in the right direction.