Regulatory Czar wants to use copyright protection mechanisms to shut down rumors and conspiracy theories!

Posted on January 20, 2012 by  via Truthaholics

As Congress considers vastly expanding the power of copyright holders to shut down fair use of their intellectual property, this is a good time to remember the other activities that Obama’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein wants to shut down using the tools of copyright protection. For a couple of years now, Sunstein has been advocating that the “notice and take down” model from copyright law should be used against rumors and conspiracy theories, “to achieve the optimal chilling effect.”

What kinds of conspiracy theories does Sunstein want to suppress by law? Here’s one:

… that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud. [From page 4 of Sunstein’s 2008 “Conspiracy Theories” paper.]

Freedom of speech requires scope for error

At present, limits on speech are governed by libel law. For statements about public figures, libel requires not just that an accusation must be false, but that it must have been:

… made with ‘actual malice’—that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard to whether it was false or not. [New York Times v. Sullivan, 1964]

The purpose of the “actual malice” standard is to leave wide latitude for errant statements, which free public debate obviously requires. Sunstein thinks that room-for error stuff is given too much weight. He’d like it to see errant statements expunged. From Sunstein’s 2009 book On Rumors (page 78):

On the Internet in particular, people might have a right to ‘notice and take down.’ [T]hose who run websites would be obliged to take down falsehoods upon notice.

Further, “propagators” would face a “liability to establish what is actually true” (ibid).

Suppose you are a simple public-spirited blogger, trying to expose how Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Tom Wigley, and other Team members conspire to suppress the research and destroy the careers of those who challenge their consensus views. If Sunstein gets his way, Team members will only have to issue you a takedown notice, and if you want your post to stay up, you’ll have to go to court and win a judgment that your version of events is correct.

Today that should be doable, at great expense. But before the first and second batches of climategate emails were released there were only tales of retaliation, with one person’s word against another’s. Thus at the most critical juncture, when documentary proofs of The Team’s vendettas were not yet public, even a person who was willing to run Sunstein’s legal gauntlet might well have been held by a judge to be in error.

Escalation

The path from Sunstein’s 2008 “Conspiracy Theories” article to his 2009 On Rumors book is straightforward. According to Sunstein’s 2008 definition, a conspiracy theory is very close to a potentially libelous rumor:

… a conspiracy theory can generally be counted as such if it is an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role. [Abstract]

At this time, Sunstein’s “main policy idea” was that:

government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories….

… government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. [“Conspiracy Theories,” pages 14-15]

Government funding of trolls? Sounds like a bad joke, but Sunstein quickly upped the ante. In On Rumors he followed the conspiracy theory as slanderous rumor angle as a way to justify adopting the “notice and take down” artillery from copyright law. So Sunstein already has a history of escalation in his legal crusade against ideas he does not like. If SOPA and PIPA are enacted and the machinery of copyright protection becomes vastly more censorious, its pretty much a certainty that Sunstein will want to use these more powerful tools against rumors and conspiracy theories as well.

Sunstein’s target has always been the very core of the First Amendment: the most protected political speech

In On Rumors, the rumor that Sunstein seems most intent on suppressing is the accusation, leveled during the 2008 election campaign, that Barack Obama “pals around with terrorists.” (“Look Inside” page 3.) Sunstein fails to note that the “palling around with terrorists” language was introduced by the opposing vice presidential candidate, GovernorSarah Palin (who was implicating Obama’s relationship with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers). Instead Sunstein focuses his ire on “right wing websites” that make “hateful remarks about the alleged relationship between Barack Obama and the former radical Bill Ayers,” singling out Sean Hannity for making hay out of Obama’s “alleged associations” (pages 13-14).

What could possibly be more important than whether a candidate for president does indeed “pal around with terrorists”? Of all the subjects to declare off limits, this one is right up there with whether the anti-CO2 alarmists who are trying to unplug the modern world are telling the truth. And Sunstein’s own bias on the matter could hardly be more blatant. Bill Ayers is a “former” radical? Bill “I don’t regret setting bombs” Ayers? Bill “we didn’t do enough” Ayers?

For the facts of the Obama-Ayers relationship, Sunstein apparently accepts Obama’s campaign dismissal of Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” In fact their relationship was long and deep. Obama’s political career was launched via a fundraiser in Bill Ayers’ living room; Obama was appointed the first chairman of the Ayers-founded Annenberg Challenge, almost certainly at Ayers’ request; Ayers and Obama served together on the board of the Woods Foundation, distributing money to radical left-wing causes; and it has now been reported by full-access White House biographer Christopher Andersen (and confirmed by Bill Ayers) that Ayers actually ghost wrote Obama’s first book Dreams of My Father.

Whenever free speech is attacked, the real purpose is to cover up the truth. Not that Sunstein himself knows the truth about anything. He just knows what he wants to suppress, which is exactly why government must never have this power.

You, on the other hand, are the enemy

In climate science, there is no avoiding “reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” The Team has always been sloppy about concealing its machinations, but that doesn’t stop Sunstein from using climate skepticism as an exemplar of pernicious conspiracy theorizing, and his goal is perfectly explicit: he wants the state to take aggressive action to make it easier for our powerful government funded scientists to conceal their machinations.

Cass Sunstein may be the most illiberal man ever to present himself as a liberal. He also holds the most powerful regulatory position in existence, overseeing every federal regulation. For a sample of his handiwork, realize that he oversaw the EPA’s recently issued transport and MACT rules, which will shut down 8% of current U.S. electricity generation.

Maybe you don’t think it’s a good idea to unplug critical energy infrastructure just to achieve marginal further reductions in micro-particulates that have already fallen to well below half of their 1980 levels:

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Sorry but there is no place in Sunstein’s EPA for such doubts and, as far as he is concerned, no place for them in the realm of public debate either. The environmental bureaucracy has everyone’s best interest at heart. To question that is the very definition of conspiracy mongering.

Next people will be claiming that Obama actually intends for energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket.” Such vile rumors need to be silenced, and this can easily be done. Once the SOPA/PIPA machinery is in place, it will only take one line in some future omnibus bill to extend it from copyright to criticism.

For more click here.

A Perfect Example Of A Bureaucracy Increasing It’s Own Scope – another example of government intrusion!

By John Wiseman via Tea Party Nation

Via the Daily Caller today., I found this little snippet. It stands as that perfect example of the dangers of allowing government bureaucracies the authority to grant themselves power beyond their original mandates. This is one of the many bad things which happens when governments grow too big in both size and scope. Nobody has a handle on what they are up to, and the growth of the behemoth is uncontrollable, unwieldy, and impossible for anyone to predict what the next outrage will be. Some time last year, the undisputed king of big government recognized the ridiculousness of the problem and appointed one of his many federal czars to monitor the explosive growth of governmental overreach. Long time big government cheer leader Cass Sunstein, the man who proposed a holiday be observed on tax day each year to thank the big brother government for taking care of our every need, has been appointed by Barack Obama to tell little Barry when our federal over regulation becomes too onerous for the little people to bear it any longer. Somehow, I think he missed this latest attempt by the IRS to destroy the 350,000 small businesses who were giving tax preparation behemoths Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax Service, and H & R Block, some actual competition. There are many, namely the 350,000 individual tax preparers, and the Institute For Justice, who recognized this as the crony capitalism that it is.

To see the video, IRS Protectionism:  New Licensing Scheme Challenged in Major Federal Lawsuit, click here.

This is not an argument about whether or not tax preparers should be held to some standard by the people who employ them. It is an argument about who are the best people to establish that standard, and who benefits the most from this government’s intrusion into the market place, a place by the way our founding fathers worked so hard to create a society where the government would never be allowed to intrude upon. The fact is, there are already a bevy of regulations on the books, even before this power grab which were designed to insure that consumers were protected against tax preparation fraud. I do not remember reading a single story of how unsuspecting citizens were targeted by gangs of errant tax preparers and subsequently had their lives destroyed. This is about three very large corporations lobbying legislators to eliminate that pesky competition, and doing so under the guise of protecting the little guy. The little guy of course is the American Consumer.

What are the results of this going to be? One, each tax preparer is now forced to pay a licensing fee. The fee in this case is $150. While that may seem small, that will translate into a figure of over $100 Million being taken out of the market place and placed firmly into the coffers of the IRS. They of course get to include it as a part of their budget, and this will make them happy. The three large companies who do tax preparation will also be forced to pay their share of the fee, but for them, this is merely the cost of eliminating competition, and they will pass this extra expense onto their clientele, who now have fewer options of where to take their business. So, the big three are happy with this. We consumers on the other hand, we get to pick up the tab for all of this. Our tax preparation costs just went up, and all we have is a guy named Cass Sunstein in Washington to protect us from a malevolent big government, who as it turns out is actually in favor of a malevolent big government to begin with. That’s not all though. The IRS as it turns out is offering, at a prohibitive cost of course, a class to train the tax preparers how to pass their test in order to become licensed. The class costs money, which of course enriches the IRS, and taking the test costs money, and guess who profits from that as well. As it turns out, this new government regulation is also a big money maker for the bureaucracy who inflicted it upon us, as they all are. The whole scheme is just another tax which is called something else, lest we realize it is a tax. These little bombshells are literally all over our daily lives, fees, licenses, little additions to the cost of our everyday lives, all designed to incrementally tax us without our realizing it. More than 53% of Americans are paying a Federal Tax. Only 53% of Americans realize it as such.

Another thing to consider is this. Who gave the IRS this authority? What part of their charter and establishment gives them the power to create their own legislation, and inflict their own power of taxation upon the public? Before anyone answers that I don’t know what I am talking about, that taxes are so important that only knowledgeable preparers should be allowed to perform this financial rocket surgery, keep this in mind. I myself have my taxes done by a CPA. That is my choice. CPA’s are more expensive than other preparers. I have made it my business to inquire about the qualifications of the person doing my taxes. I also recognize that many people in our society do not wish to pay the price that a CPA might charge to have their taxes done by this level of professional. That is not my business. By chasing the lower cost preparers from the market place, the very people who the IRS claims to be helping are hurt the most. The lower cost choice has now been removed from the market place, and in subsequent years, every level of preparer left will be raising their prices accordingly. They now have increased costs to pass on, as well as increased demand for their limited time.

Our government has run amok. The march of onerous regulation moves forward, and we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by asinine debates such as whether or not Gay People can ruin their lives or not by getting married or not. When Barack Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, our nation ranked as the 4th most economically free society in the world today, a list in which we once held the number 1 spot. Today, we sit at number 10 on that list, and I am afraid to think of where we will be in 4 years if this little man child President were to be elected for another term. These are the kinds of things which should be hammered relentlessly during the fall’s general election. These are winning campaign issues.

For more information click here.