January 19, 2012

SOPA Has Woken The Sleeping Giant, And We Are It


“One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.” 
— Oscar Wilde

If you’ve been online at all today and you aren’t completely daft then I’m sure you’ve seen the black block out banners above and across certain websites, the 503 errors and sometimes humorous albeit inappropriate message on ‘going dark’. The war between the internet and the Government has hit the ground running and me thinks the internet is on the winning side.

Why you ask? Two words or rather acts known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives. These two bills if passed, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business’s. Within the last twenty-four hours millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs have ‘gone dark’ to protest SOPA and PIPA.

These bills, if passed would change the face of the internet drastically. Under these new laws internet users can kiss websites like YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social networking sites goodbye. As well as numerous other sites that don’t fit within the tightly confined parameters of SOPA and PIPA.

According to CNN.com, since Wednesday January 18, 2012 at midnight when Wikipedia and thousands of other websites blacked out their pages to protest the legislation three co-sponsors of the SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills have publicly withdrawn their support. Some of them going as far to post on their own Facebook pages hoping to reach out and show people that while they want to control the pirating of movies and music on the web they do not want to control our rights and freedoms.

A lot of people out there think the youth of America are ignorant, and while I can’t always defend my generation and what we as a whole do with our time, I can tell you this. As individual’s we might not always be in the know and we might not always care about things that don’t directly affect us, but when it comes down to something as essential as the internet, something that children are now being taught with in school, that is being used to promote business and growth in the economy, we can rally like you’ve never seen.

Today is proof of that. Congress might not think much of one person, one protester, and one website black out, but today over 10,000 websites on the internet, blacked out their content for 24 hours to show people what the World Wide Web would be like if these bills came to fruition.

Just think about the potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet if we stand by and don’t speak up. Hundreds of thousands of people, tweeting, facebooking, calling their local congressional representatives, making their opinions be heard to stop this violation of the freedoms we have so rightfully been given as American citizens.

“Imagine a world without free knowledge,” were the words written across Wikipedia’s black out page for all to see today. They were the giants who spearheaded the ‘going dark’ movement and were followed shortly their after by popular sites such as: Reddit, Imgur, Vimeo, Firefox, Flickr, Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitpic, and Craigslist.

I find it absolutely amazing what people as a whole can accomplish when they work together. Not only did this ‘black out’ stir the pots, but it got the senators supporting these bills to take notice and take a hit in their supporters today. While this is nowhere near the end of the battle, the PIPA vote will take place on January 24 and the SOPA vote will go forward in February as there are still a good number of people supporting the bill, I’d definitely say it’s still one for the win column.

InsideMenace , an iReporter for CNN said, “The Internet IS the people,” and I couldn’t agree more. The Internet is full of real life people who will not stand by as their rights are dismantled and taken away. What is America without the freedom’s that make this country the great place that it is?

It is true, piracy is a terrible thing and there should be something in place to protect people’s artistic endeavors, but not at the cost of everyone else’s freedom. There must be another way because just like people came together after 9/11 and stood beside each other in the fight against terrorism, they will come together once again and make sure SOPA and PIPA never see the light of day.

If we wanted to live in a government controlled world were our words, thoughts and ideas were censored we’d all high tail our asses to China, which I doubt any of us want to do. Stop censorship, we want a free and open Internet and we will never give up our rights, not today and not ever.

For those of you, who are illiterate on all things government like me, here are a few websites you can go to, to learn more about SOPA and PIPA.

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