Internet Protest against SOPA and IPA;
On January 18 2012, webmasters around the world protested by blacking out their website for the day. This effort was organized to protest the SOPA and PIPA bill about to go before congress in the coming weeks.
These bills fundamentally begin to place a dictatorship style control over the internet in the United States. There really isnt any other way else to put it. The bills are design to place the federal government in charge of what can be seen, heard or read on the internet. With a simple phone call, from one of the many corporate sponsors of this bill, can bring down a website regardless of whether or not it is actually pirating works. It’s purely the “shoot first ask questions later” business model. From my experience there is little anyone can do about it after the perverdbial trigger has been pulled. There is no due process built in and no checks and balances. As much as the backers of this bill say that it won’t affect honest hard working webmasters and internet entrepreneurs, I beg to differ. This bill seems to be written to be abuse our freedom of speech and eliminate net neutrality amongst ISPs and the government. The bill originally was written to pull a website through at the ISP level or DNS level. This type of censorship tactics is shared by North Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, and many, many other free speech hating countries. The only difference here this is to the benefit of corporate America and not a single dictator. This portion of the bill has been removed, however the mere existence of this bill is offensive to people who believe in an open, neutral and free internet.
The idea of the government trying to regulate in any way, what I can see, read or listen to on the internet is insane. I applaud Google, Wikipedia, and the Pirate Bay for their bold gestures in participating in this protest. Although their sites did not go dark they brought to the forefront an issue that many Americans have not been given the opportunity to understand. This gesture has brought so much attention to this bill that American leaders have been bombarded with questions and pressure from the public to rethink their support of such a measure. Just like the successful pressure put onto Bank of America for introducing a $5 fee to its customers, our elected officials chosen to back off this bill. By the end of the day from the start of this protest, more than half of the sponsors of the bill have taken their names from it. Even the author of this bill, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, has now pulled it to have it reviewed.
I hope one day corporate America and our elected officials will learn regulating the internet only harms innovation and free speech. Instead of fighting something corporate America doesn’t understand, they should learn from it and strive to evolve as a business.