Twitter's lawyer warns SOPA could punish all users

Alex MacGillivray, general council for Twitter and a former attorney for Google, isn't a fan of the Stop Online Piracy Act either.

In a posting on his personal blog last week, MacGillvray presented a hypothetical situation in which the government or a private corporation could abuse the powers granted under SOPA and in coming after infringing users of several fictional Internet services, result in the shutdown of the entire service and the loss of data for all the other legitmate users.

While MacGillvray makes clear on his blog and personal Twitter account that his views and opinions may not be the official views of his employer, it's hard to imagine otherwise.

... And yet, none of that matters. Under SOPA, every single one of the services that Abe uses can be obliterated from his view without him having any remedy. Abe may wake up one morning and not be able to access any of his photos of his children. Neither he, nor his students, would be able to access any of his lectures. His trove of smart online discussions would likewise evaporate and he wouldn’t even be able to complain about it on his blog. And, in every case, he has absolutely no power to try to regain access. That may sound far-fetched but under SOPA, all that needs to happen for this scenario to come true is for the Attorney General to decide that some part of PickUpShelf, SunStream, SpeakFree and NewLeaflet would be copyright infringement in the US. If a court agrees, and with no guarantee of an adversarial proceeding that seems very likely, the entire site is “disappeared” from the US internet. When that happens Abe has NO remedy. None.

He joins Reddit manager Erik Martin, as Neowin highlighted yesterday, who expressed his displeasure with the proposed legislation saying that it would probably lead to the eventual shutdown of Reddit. 

Stanford Law Review recently looked over SOPA, and came to the conclusion that the law contains "an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression."

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