I didn’t post this yesterday in order to stay, at least to a degree, in line with the internet-wide blackout in support of stopping SOPA; however, I do believe that the cause is vital to address. It’s important to become educated in order to help prevent our freedoms from being taken away. Know thine enemy, yes? So:
What is SOPA anyway?
Great question! And one that many others have asked, particularly in the past day or so. Yesterday, January 18th, you may have visited your favorite website (Wikipedia, Google or Wired, among others) only to discover that they were participating in a “blackout” for the day. Sure that may have been inconvenient, but what if that one-day blackout was permanent?
SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are two bills that have been in Congress and are set to be voted on by the Senate on January 24th. The point of the bill is to crack down on copyright-infringement by restricting access to sites that host pirated materials. If passed, these bills will set regulations on web content and allow the government to block these websites from the internet or its search engines. Giving unnecessary power to the government to control our now open and free internet is worrying to say the least. Many sites have become active in encouraging its readers to sign petitions that will show our distaste of this bill. Google’s “motto” for the blackout, “Stop Piracy, Not Liberty”, resonated most clearly with me. While I appreciate an effort to protect our citizens’ privacy, I think it’s just as important to protect our citizens’ freedom of speech.
We already have many freedoms censored: literature, art and video games all get censored on a regular basis. When we allow one thing to be stripped of free speech, it opens the floodgates for everything else to be amended or suppressed as well. Cutting social networks, blogs and other internet resources in turn cuts our access to knowledge and information. With the potential to harm functionality of small businesses, it cuts jobs as well. Most importantly, it cuts our basic constitutional right to speak our mind and be individuals in a nation of such varied cultures, races, backgrounds and lifestyles.
4.5 million people spoke up today and signed Google’s petition
103,785 people signed petitions through the We The People website (according to the White House blog).
25,000+ blogs on WordPress went black to support the cause
12,500 WordPress blogs added a “Stop Censorship” ribbon to their sites
50,000 sites promised participation in the online demonstration on Fight for the Future.org
An average 2,000 calls per second were made through Engine Advocacy, a service that helps people call their local Congress members
4 million people used Wikimedia to look up contact information for their local representative
Our efforts are working: PIPA co-sponsor Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced yesterday that he is withdrawing his support of the bill! Just because the blackout is over, doesn’t mean the fight is. Support the protest of SOPA and PIPA by spreading the word, signing a petition, making sure you Twitter this article, share it on Facebook and LinkedIn (using the buttons below this article) or re-post it on your blog* to enlighten your peers, colleagues and readers.
(*If used on a blog, simply let me know that you’re using it by emailing me a link at firstname.lastname@example.org and you must also link back to this site!)