Okay, I don’t ordinarily get involved in political issues here that fall outside the basic scope of this blog, but, in a way, this isn’t an entirely unrelated issue. This is a word about SOPA. If you don’t know what SOPA is, I suggest you educate yourself about it, because if this bill passes it will change the internet in dramatic ways, few of them good for the end user.
In a nutshell, what this law will mean is that the US government will gain unprecedented powers in controlling the internet all over the world, because they will be able to block out any websites for American users that are deemed to be in violation of its piracy legislation, without so much as an arrest or trial for any accused wrongdoers. Think about that for a minute. If you’re not an American, that should piss you off immediately. Now that most of the world understands what this means for them, let’s look at how it affects Americans. The answer is, you will fare no better, and in some ways a good deal worse. The US government will reserve the right to essentially blacklist and censor any website—and thereby any individual, company or agency—it deems to be violating American copyright infringement/piracy laws (which, I might add, are defined quite broadly here), whether from foreign or domestic sources. It also puts the onus on internet providers to keep tabs on its users–that’s YOU, dear reader–to make sure the rules are being adhered to. The government therefore not only allows itself and its agents here broad powers to punish without having to go to trial to prove its case, it pretty much demands that many unwilling parties be complicit in this insane mockery of justice.
Big Brother, here we come . . .
So, yeah. We stand to lose a lot here. The government thought they could sneak this past us before the slumbering beast woke up enough to stand against it prior to its passing. It looks like they were dead wrong. Make your voice heard. This is not merely about the government protecting intellectual property, as they claim; this is about the government controlling what YOU have access to on the information superhighway. If that doesn’t frighten and anger you, you aren’t paying attention. So go out there and shout it in the streets, write or call your congressmen and congresswomen, fill your blogs with angry rants. We cannot stand for this! The United States government has taken too much from us already. It’s time we all finally joined together as one voice and said, “No! Not this time!”
From Daniel on January 19, 2012
This sounds just like the internet filtering bill in Australia, which has ominously dropped from the radar, probably to be revived after the next election. The only difference is that the Americans use piracy as the political excuse for gaining such a tool of control, while Australia invokes the protection of children.
From pipstarr72 on January 19, 2012
These guys will use whatever they can to sell their ultimate goal of controlling the Internet right down to the last wire. “Think of the children!” Yeah, they’ve proposed that particular thought-terminating cliche here too a few times, but I think they realize people are starting to get wise to that nonsense. They used the piracy thing I think because it’s not something that most people tend to think much about and they thought they could float that past the public without anyone really noticing. They would’ve succeeded too if not for the fact that people who actually have a large stake in Internet-focused media (e.g. the people at Google, Wikipedia, etc.) have lawyers and experts that pay attention to this stuff, and they started raising red flags via their media to get the message out. It reminds me a bit of how William Randolph Hearst used his media as a weapon against the burgeoning hemp industry back in the 1930s, which was set to replace lumber as a cheaper and more renewable source of paper (Hearst had a lot of money sunk into lumber and would’ve lost a lot of his investment if we had switched to hemp to make paper.) Of course, Hearst was a grade-A asshat and his use of his own media was completely selfish. In this case, however, the internet media—while they certainly stand to benefit from SOPA and PIPA not passing—are actually using their outlets for the greater good.