“[A] structural approach, which focuses on preserving an overall balance between state control and citizen autonomy, seems to me more appropriate for evaluating mass surveillance programs such as the NSA’s … . [T]he appropriate question is whether the creation of a system of surveillance perilously alters that balance too far in the direction of government control, whether or not we have problems with the current use of that system. We might imagine a system of compulsory cameras installed in homes, activated only by warrant, being used with scrupulous respect for the law over many years. The problem is that such an architecture of surveillance, once established, would be difficult to dismantle, and prove too potent a tool of control if it ever fell into the hands of people who—whether through panic, malice, or a misguided confidence in their own ability to secretly judge the public good—would seek to use it against us.”
The practical effect of SOPA will be to create an architecture for censorship—both legal and technological—that will radically alter the costs of engaging in future censorship unrelated to piracy or counterfeiting … . [T]he portion of the bill laying out the specific types of criminal conduct that trigger this Rube Goldberg censorship machine occupy just a couple of paragraphs. With the legal framework in place, expanding it to cover other conduct—obscenity, defamation, “unfair competition,” patent infringement, publication of classified information, advocacy in support of terror groups —would be a matter of adding a few words to those paragraphs … . Any sane network operator is just going to build a filter that reads off the current list of banned domains from a government feed and automatically stops resolving them … . Once the up-front costs of implementing that filter mechanism are paid, the marginal cost of additional censorship is effectively zero for the providers.