Friday, January 20, 2012

The Road to Censorship Through SOPA and PIPA

The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) were proposed because of music and film and other creative industries trying to protect their arts by copyright laws. The act of stealing or illegally selling copyright material happens all over the world by rogue websites, especially sites that are operated and registered overseas. What is being debated and what the public at large is terrified of is the vagueness of the bills. Because both of the bills in their definitions could bleed into other areas, many are afraid that its reach could affect all of us and our Freedom of Speech here in America.

Imagine getting on your computer and typing in "Google" and nothing comes up. Then you type in "Facebook" and again, nada. Well, if these bills pass in Congress that is exactly what could happen. These laws will affect companies, websites, blogs, jobs and the list goes on and on. If this causes a change in your pulse rate, then you are not alone. It is a very scary reality.

We can actually see how internet censorship works through the eyes of people in China. The China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, blocks Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube (to name a few)and specific keywords from being searched. The MIIT has blocked information from the internet for years in China and in essence are trying to prevent its people from accessing specific and true facts about their government and its history. Yes, there are ways around finding censored information, but the Chinese government is constantly working to make access more difficult.

You may not know this, but there is information that has been blocked here in the US through websites and software companies that we know and use every day; Google, Yahoo, Bing, Microsoft and yes, even Apple. In order to continue doing business with China and stay in their good graces, businesses here in the states have answered to Chinese demands to censor certain information. In January of 2011, Google claimed that there was an attempt of China accessing information of some of their Gmail accounts and announced that they would no longer be censoring This obviously caused a hit for Google in China, but they are not backing down.

What internet giants are trying to show us on "Black Wednesday" is that if the SOPA and PIPA bills pass in Congress, the way we experience the internet will be change dramatically. Most of us cannot, and should not, picture a world with this type of censorship. Yes, stealing copyright information is wrong and needs to be addressed and stopped. There are other ways that the arts and copyrights can be protected and this is where Congresses focus needs to be channeled. We, in the United States, take some of our freedoms for granted every day, but as Americans we need to stand up and fight for our unalienable rights under the Constitution, or we can start to kiss more and more of our freedoms goodbye.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.. Ur article is very impressive and so is the topic.. Internet and web is supposed to be "wide-spread" not concealed and tightly bounded with authority.. As far as Cyber ethics are concerned, they should come up with a better approach.
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