This post is very different from my normal writings. Please feel free to skip it if you are not a resident of the United States or if you don’t really care about politics regarding the Internet.
I don’t consider myself very political but I do consider myself a huge advocate for freedom of ideas online. Put simply, I really do love the Internet. It enables ideas (the most powerful force known to man) to travel freely to those willing to consume. Since it is both international and decentralized, it has the ability to rise above the policies of the biggest governments and corporations. I believe that there is nothing more important to bettering humanity than the freedom of information online.
It isn’t a perfect system but it is the best we have. In the vast majority of cases I am not for copyright infringement or intellectual property theft but if these must happen as a side effect of enabling every person with Internet connection to be able to consume and distribute any piece of information they deem worthy, then so be it. The pros in my mind clearly outweigh the cons.
The problem is that these freedoms are being threatened by some powers that can’t be ignored.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.
Put simply, it would enable law enforcement in the United States to effectively remove websites from the Internet.
While I can certainly see how this might be used for good, I simply can’t imagine a person or organization that I would trust with this power. It is one thing for schools to block access to pornographic websites but it is an entirely different thing for the government to effectively remove information from the Internet. That is simply too much power.
If you would like to join me in fighting this bill I encourage you to contact your political representatives. I have included a form below to help automate this process.
Lastly, if you would like to learn more about the proposed bill I recommend the following sources for more information.
- Washington Post – House introduces Internet piracy bill
- PC World – The US Stop Online Piracy Act: A Primer
- Wikipedia – Stop Online Piracy Act
- Official Bill
The following form uses your IP address to match you with your applicable political representative: