Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop Internet Censorship / SOPA and PIPA

To those browsing the web today, you may notice some changes if you are a user of Wikipedia or Google you will notice that their pages have "gone black". This is due to their opposition of the "Stop Online Piracy Act" and the "Protect IP Act".

What are they?

Wikipedia defines the situation as follows:

SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act," and PIPA is an acronym for the "Protect IP Act." ("IP" stands for "intellectual property.") In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The EFF has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.

Who are the players?
While legislature is in Congress to support these acts, the legislation's supporters include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), The NBA, Pfizer, Nike, L'Oreal, The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and others.

Diametrially opposed to these groups are organizations like Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, ebay, Mozilla, Wikipedia and 2600, the hacker magazine.

What's the big deal?
The issue is one of 1st Amendment rights and censorship.

Although the current administration does not support these bills as written, proponents of the bills will certainly bring them or similar ones back.

There are several provisions such as The Anti-Circumvention Provision, The “Vigilante” Provision, Corporate Right of Action and Expanded Attorney General Powers, would stifle the Open Source community and cause sites (like Facebook and You Tube) to shut down due to the large cost of policing their own sites as well as forcing huge liability costs onto countless Internet companies. Small competitors of larger companies would have an unfair disadvantage.

SOPA and PIPA set up breeding ground for abuses like the prosecution of people with little, if any judicial oversight.  In general, SOPA and PIPA open up a Pandora's box for abuse and 1st Amendment rights violations.

 Read more from the EFF website, here.

What Can I Do?

Take Action Now! Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation's action page here.


  1. As a responsible user of a business broadband in Australia, I am against internet censorship. Governments should leave internet freedom alone.

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