SOPA…it’s a term that will be infamous amongst internet users forever. SOPA, otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a new government bill that some are trying desperately to get passed by Congress, to the great disdain of internet users around the world. On the surface the bill might sound like a good thing, trying to stop piracy and illegal activity on the internet. But dig deeper and you will find that SOPA is just another extreme form of internet censorship.
There is a whole lot to the bill itself, but in a nutshell, the bill would allow the government to shut down and deny access to any website that is deemed to have illegal material on it. This, naturally, has made a lot of website creators, developers and owners very upset, especially sites like Reddit and Wikipedia.
This bill has a lot of potential for bad. For example, Reddit finds it impossible to monitor every single thing users post on the site, which makes posting things of an illegal nature simple since there is no one to monitor it. If SOPA is enacted, and that illegal material was discovered, then the government could essentially shut down Reddit completely and deny access to everybody, even if the site and its operators had absolutely nothing to do with the material posted.
As a result of SOPA, as well as PIPA (Protect IP Act), a lot of major websites have staged an internet protest in the form of a blackout. Major websites, like Reddit, Google and WordPress have participated in the event. Google blacked out its logo and added the message “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the Web!” The message was also linked to an online petition opposing SOPA in the U.S. House of Representatives and PIPA in the Senate.
The blackout is scheduled to last from 8:00 a.m. this morning until 8:00 p.m. (for most sites) this evening with additional sites expected to register. Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger, which operates multiple humor websites, stated in a recent Tweet that his company’s sites would blackout as well.
Wikipedia posted on its site saying, “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge”, and also wrote on its English site that the SOPA legislation is something “that could fatally damage the free and open internet.” The site also added that it would be blacking out for 24 hours in order to raise awareness.
It seems as if three officials from the Obama administration issued a statement opposing both SOPA and PIPA . The officials stated that online piracy by foreign websites was a very serious problem in America that requires a serious legislative response but that SOPA and PIPA aren’t it. The three officials also stated that they would not support legislation that “diminishes freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”
It will be a dark day for internet users should these laws get passed. However, if there is one thing I have learned from blogging, it’s that internet users are many, they are powerful and you do NOT want to screw with their internet…
Source: PC World – Wikipedia, Craigslist, Other Sites Black out Against SOPA at Midnight