So, today is a day of protest for many websites in protest of the PIPA and SOPA bills that the U.S. Congress is currently considering. I work in a high school library, so when sites like Wikipedia shut down, I can’t help but chuckle because so many people don’t know where to turn for information when Wikipedia goes down – teachers and students alike. I only wish Google would have done more than a black box for a graphic on the homepage. I mean, if Google and Facebook shut down for a day or longer, maybe more citizens would get the message about censorship and government control over the internet and IP addresses and begin to contact their local representatives in Congress to stop this bad legislation. However, that would entail these companies having a deeper sense of civic duty other than generate profits, which they do not. Really, the intentions of SOPA (to stop online piracy) is a noble one, but neither of these bills will work.
Illegal piracy of music and films will still occur for many reasons such as:
- technology will change to circumvent detection
- other countries do not adhere to our copyright laws
- people that bootleg/pirate usually don’t buy film & music anyway so these lost profits won’t be restored – they never bought it anyway
On top of that, we just can’t give the government control (or the Attorney General) over which sites to block. Once we relinquish our freedom we never get it back. Plus, the application of these laws will inevitably be used for something other than their stated intention. I kind of equate it to how we bring down the mafia: mobsters are rarely arrested for murder/robbery/extortion/drugs/etc – instead they are indicted under some umbrella of RICO or tax evasion. That’s how I envision the future if these bills become law. The internet will be policed, an unneeded industry will be established to support this effort, and eventually online activity that was never intended to be scrutinized by these laws will somehow fall victim to them. Or worse, more laws restricting the internet will pass. Liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat or Independent – this type of legislation affects us all and we should be very wary of it and resist it on every level.
If you think I trust any Attorney General to block sites based on their judgement, you’re crazy. The bottom line is this: it is a direct threat to our First Amendment rights and privacy rights. If you still are fuzzy about what the bills entail, check out ALA’s position.