The European Union stood up for freedom of speech this month with its resolution to halt domain seizures by U.S. authorities, in an attempt to stay one step ahead of controversial online-privacy legislation under consideration in Washington.
Since 2010, U.S. authorities have been blocking certain Internet domains, citing concerns that the websites enabled copyright infringement. The moves have drawn condemnation from free-speech advocates around the world. Those seizures would be made law with the passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act, the bill known as SOPA which is being heatedly debated by the U.S. House of Representatives. If enacted, free services like YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr might be forced to shut down under the weight of copyright concerns.
The European Parliament criticized the U.S. domain seizures with a resolution for the forthcoming EU-U.S. Summit, stating “the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”
If SOPA becomes law in the U.S., American authorities will be able to shut down websites anywhere in the world, because the domains such as .com, .org, and .net are managed by U.S.-owned companies.