The Americanization of the Internet: Why Kaspersky has resigned from the BSA

At first glance he does indeed seem to confirm that SOPA is the cause of his company’s resignation. “If we accept this law,” he says, “hundreds of thousands of lawyers will suddenly appear out of the woodwork because almost any website can be accused of copyright infringement! This law will lead to major legalized extortion.” But closer examination suggests that SOPA is merely a symptom of his discontent. His real concern is the Americanization of the Internet. It is not just American citizens who will be affected; “under this law, the interests of non-American authors/creators are not protected at all, while the nationality of the perpetrators is of no importance. This means that the rights of non-Americans can be infringed however, whenever and wherever you want. But US interests must be respected globally.”

Bev Robb, an independent internet security consultant, says it simply. “Anyone who supports SOPA does not understand that this is about web censorship and ‘Americanization’. I am very pleased and supportive that Kaspersky resigned from the BSA,” she adds.

Eugene Kaspersky feels that under SOPA and a ruling from a US court, “anybody infringing US copyrights should be cut off from the Internet by all search engines, ISPs, credit systems and other levers of control, without exception.” He worries that this could become global with the support of organizations like the BSA. “See the list of DNS servers: all of them are in the US or on very friendly territories. Yes, that’s right… the carrot is across the ocean and the stick is there too.” It would appear that the global reach of the US courts is becoming a major concern.

It’s not just SOPA. In the UK there is current academic debate about a paragraph in a Microsoft document. It’s a submission to the Australian government who are looking to keep patient health data online. One of the criteria for this project is that health data be held within Australian shores. Microsoft believes that this is too restrictive, but goes on to suggest that it might not be relevant. “For example,” it explains, “any company with a presence in the United States of America (not just those with headquarters or subsidiaries in that country) may be legally required to respond to a valid demand from the United States Government for information the company retains custody over or controls, regardless of where the data is stored or the existence of any conflicting obligations under the laws of the country where the data is located.”

The implication is that not only can US courts demand the personal data of any person anywhere in the world who uses Google or Facebook or Twitter or MySpace, those companies will have no option but to hand it over.

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