The bill has two goals: Allowing domestic ISPs to cut off access to overseas sites that violate U.S. copyright laws, without becoming liable themselves; and to combat piracy.
By letting deep-pocketed companies sue private citizens, the Protect-IP act hands over to groups such as the RIAA and MPAA the right to decide what does or does not constitute a violation of copyright.
These are the organizations, if you'll remember, who have protected the freedom of Americans by making an example in court of grandmothers and young children who live in the same house in which copyrighted material was downloaded.
The bill has also ticked off Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, who vowed to fight it even if it passes.
A range of open-source and open-information sites call the bill a blatant effort to institutionalize censorship, and it's hard to contradict them. The rhetoric does focus on preventing piracy, but there are few controls or definitions that would either restrict the actions of an overzealous Justice Dept. or provide guidance to one that was being careful to adhere to the law.
The result is bound to be inconsistent, as some sites remain unmolested by keeping a low profile, and the full weight of the U.S. government falling on others that have somehow gotten themselves into the sights of the RIAA or MPAA.
So where does Anonymous and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce come in? The Chamber (which is not the U.S. Dept. of Commerce), is a Washington-based lobby for big business. Businesses in the RIAA, MPAA and other content-heavy businesses are big players with the Chamber.
The Chamber runs stories on its blog like the "Rogue Web Site of the Day," featuring a future victim of a Protect-IP investigation, posts videos with titles like " Intellectual Property Theft Kills Jobs," and allege content piracy in China costs 2.1 million U.S. jobs and hint that Protect-IP might help improve that a bit.