January 18, 2012 – Along the vast plains of the normally free and open internet today, blackouts can be seen scattered all about. This is not your typical winter storm internet-smackdown; rather, this day marks a solid protest from many Internet companies in regards to two looming anti-piracy bills: SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). These acts endanger our internet freedoms and pose a threat to some of the largest internet search engines and companies out there, like Google and Wikipedia.
Try going to Google’s homepage…you will find a censor block over their logo. Upon clicking on this block, you’re directed to a page entitled ‘End Piracy, Not Liberty’ and a voice on their opinion and how you can get involved to help move Congress against passing these acts. Moving on to Craigslist, you will find a similar page with a message to corporate paymasters to “Keep Those Clammy Hands Off the Internet”. This same wave of protests can be seen on Wikipedia, WordPress, various blogs, and many opposing web companies across the board.
These pending laws are an ominous cloud hanging above the heads of social networkers, bloggers, gamers, and just about everyone else who depends upon the Internet’s open availability. Both sides claim that the other would result in job loss, which obviously isn’t something the US is in a position to undertake right now. SOPA opposers feel that the repercussions of the anti-piracy legislation could seriously hurt our economic growth, hurt smaller Internet companies, and fail to actually end Internet piracy crimes.
Today, Google launched a petition expressing their solid stance against SOPA and PIPA. “Fighting online piracy is important. The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs. Too much is at stake – please vote NO on PIPA and SOPA.”
Those for either act are stating that piracy is responsible for stealing millions of jobs from some of the most profitable industries in our country. Senator Lamar Smith defends “it is not censorship to enforce the law against foreign thieves”. With a strong list of supporters behind these acts, the end of the Internet as we know it could become reality. SOPA has persuaded nearly two-thirds of Congress towards their slant to rid the internet of copyright infringement, leaving those for the OPEN act in the underdog position.
As the battle heats up…which side will you choose?