Right now, there are two pieces of legislation in Congress that would change the Internet forever if they are enacted. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) would give the federal government the ability to potentially shut down millions of websites. SOPA (the version being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives) is the more dangerous of the two. It would essentially be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb being dropped on the Internet. It would give government officials unlimited power to very rapidly shut down any website that is found to “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. That language is very broad and very vague. Many fear that it will be used to shut down any websites that even inadvertently link to “infringing material”. Can you imagine a world where there is no more Facebook, Twitter or YouTube? Sites like those would be forced to hire thousands of Internet censors to make sure that no “infringing material” is posted, and many prominent websites may simply decide that allowing users to post content is no longer profitable and is just not worth the hassle. Are you starting to get the picture? That is why we must stop SOPA. If SOPA is enacted, it could be the death of the free Internet.
But this is exactly the kind of bill that the establishment media has been waiting for. It would give them back control. SOPA is being heavily promoted by big media corporations. If they are able to shut down free speech on the Internet, then suddenly everyone would be forced to rely on them for news and entertainment once again.
That is why SOPA and PIPA must be stopped. A recent editorial in the New York Times described how these new laws would work….
The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright — a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification. The intention is not the same as China’s Great Firewall, a nationwide system of Web censorship, but the practical effect could be similar.
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