The fact that American copyright holders basically govern an arm of the US government that can, and is, shutting down website URLs at the TLD root is terrifying. That degree of power, however, looks like nothing compared to what happened in the recent MegaUpload takedowns. Consider the following:
The width and breadth of the global police action are simply massive, and are, quite justly, being painted as a massive over-reach. The full indictment goes so far as to mention Canadian bandwidth provider Cogent, whose headquarter employees were even held and questioned during the raids this week. Indeed, anybody who provided bandwidth, rack space or Internet services appears to have been held, questioned, and/or pressured in the global raids.
The policy of seizing domains and hardware first, without any adversarial court process, limits every person’s ability to contest American efforts to silence free speech. Moreover, the maneuvers taken impose American understandings of American law upon all people living around the world. Such actions not only makes associating with certain others, and certain behaviours, legally dangerous but given a willingness to even threaten major ISPs’ employees it suggests that even third-party data transit providers are at risk. America is (rapidly) developing a policy process and technically-informed system capable of censoring any communication, any speech, any uploaded data that its rights holders believe might damage those corporations’ economic interests.
In the 30s and 40s there was a name for this kind of behaviour: fascism. We’re now witnessing the final stages of what was intended to be the greatest republic in the world go the way of Italy. All that stands between the RIAA and running considerable elements of American law enforcement are the courts.
God save us all.