The United States government could have unprecedented power of online content if the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) passes through the House of Representatives and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) passes through the Senate.
The twin bills are meant to protect the movie and music industries from losing revenue due to third parties illegally pirating movies and songs. I agree that something needs to be done when it comes to movies and songs being illegally downloaded for free, but the government passing legislation won’t solve anything.
We’ve all heard it a thousand times: the citizens of the United States are having a hard time trusting the government. The last thing that needs to happen is the government gaining unprecedented power, allowing them to shut down websites at will.
The only thing I can foresee is our Internet being transformed from the primary medium of creativity to a space of endless regulations and heavily censored content, similar to that of China: A place where all communication through social networks and blogs is monitored and censored according to the government’s discretion. Sites most vulnerable to the legislation are Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, just to name a few.
Part of the legislation will allow the government to implement Domain Name Service (DNS) blocking. This is the same Internet blocking technology used in countries like Iran and China.
This past summer, after the riots that tore through London, the British government began discussing whether or not they should begin monitoring the Internet, especially Facebook. The Chinese government offered words of encouragement that Internet censorship is necessary for a government to thrive. I do not think this is true.
Now, with the United States considering legislation, some opponents say it would make it easier for hacker, identity thieves and cyber attacks, to operate. The European Union (EU), which includes England, is in stark opposition of the bills.
The EU parliament warned the U.S. against passing the bills, saying, “The need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”
Dozens of human rights groups have written to the U.S. government, urging them to not pass these bills that would deliver a devastating blow to Internet freedom. The U.S. government shouldn’t make laws that could potentially kill the Internet.