New Tor: Thumbs up or down from MPAA?

Back when SOPA was still alive, MPAA CEO and former Senator Chris Dodd used China as his role model for blocking US citizens’ access to Internet content:

When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.

At the same time, the MPAA made a point of referring Congress to a study from Harvard’s Berkman Center, which reported

We estimate that no more than 3% of Internet users in countries that engage in substantial filtering use circumvention tools. The actual number is likely considerably less.

As observed by the EFF,

What is worth noting here is that the countries cited in the Berkman Center paper — China, Iran, the UAE, Armenia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Burma, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam — are all countries that engage in pervasive censorship of the Internet.  Therefore, [the MPAA] is basically saying that since DNS filtering works for repressive regimes, it can work in the United States too!

According to Dodd, comparisons of SOPA to censorship are “outrageous and false“. This isn’t about suppressing speech, it’s about prosecuting crime:

So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals.

The Atlantic quickly responded that “targeting ‘criminals’ serves as a handy, sweeping justification for any ruling power to whittle away at civil rights in the name of the law”, and went on to cite anti-crime justifications for Internet censorship from China, India, and Syria.

For a moment, though, let’s follow the lead of the White Queen, who could believe six impossible things before breakfast, and accept that Chris Dodd and the MPAA aren’t pro-censorship, they’re just anti-crime. I wonder what they make of the Forbes headline of a few days ago: As Iran Cracks Down Online, Tor Tests Undetectable Encrypted Connections

Keeping secrets on the web in a country as digitally repressive as Iran isn’t easy. But as Iran tightens the screws on its Web censorship, the hackers at the anti-censorship Tor project are working on something harder: Keeping secret the act of keeping secrets.

Good news all around, right?

So, Chris, what is it? Thumbs up or down?


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