We’ve already articulated our stance on the PROTECT IP, SOPA, E-PARASITE, or whatever you want to call it bill, which creates a dangerous precedent of blacklisting domains and concentrates power on rights-holders, and remains vague enough to be easily abused. Eric Schmidt has already spoken out against it, saying that Google would not comply with its restrictions. Today he upped the rhetoric a bit while speaking at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
“The solutions are draconian. There’s a bill that would require ISPs to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.”
By dropping the C-bomb, Schmidt may have committed to becoming one of, if not the, most high-profile opponents of the bill in the tech industry, a position that may cause some inconvenience later. Luckily, he’s got the clout to back up his harsh words.
As already noted, it doesn’t really indicate a change in position on Google’s part. But Schmidt is taking up the mantle of vox populi, calling a spade a spade and calling censorship censorship. This is essentially a personal commitment to this cause, and his stature in the industry means that he’ll be spending a fair amount of time in Senate hearings regarding this bill. Good for him, though it helps to be at the helm of most important piece in the entire drama.
The fact is that if Google doesn’t comply, this bill will be nothing more than a Maginot Line across the internet. Even if Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and all the rest were to comply, Google’s dominance would moot their compliance and reap the benefits of not only appearing to be a white knight, but by siphoning off the users who can’t find RapidShare using their Yahoo homescreen’s search.
So Schmidt has carte blanche, oratorically speaking, since nothing the proponents of the bill can do will have the least effect on their position or the inefficacy of the bill. In all likelihood most tech leaders can safely claim solidarity and speak as frankly as Schmidt and some others have, and we urge them to do so.