A group individuals – none of whom understand how the internet works – drafting and creating bill governing and overseeing our nation’s access and participation within the World-Wide Web.
The current legislation that Congress and the House are proposing (Stop Online Piracy Act/SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act/PIPA, respectively) undermines the fundamentals of how the internet works, and places unwarranted accountability in the hands of website owners. As some may know, there are measures already in place to help content creators take down stolen material from websites infringing upon their copyright. With the passage of SOPA/PIPA, the government would have effectively ceded control of our nation’s network to that of content creators – the likes of whom include Time Warner, Comcast, Viacom and Universal Music Group – allowing them to create a blacklist of websites they feel violate their copyright and leaving the bulk of enforcement to that of intermediaries – such as internet service providers, credit card corporations and online search engines – creating a possible conflict of interest.
In short, should the bill pass, I – along with many other individuals who own and operate a website – could be personally held responsible for copyrighted content posted by individuals who use our sites, resulting in possible censorship or delisting from mainstream search engines. Content moderation seems to be the only solution, and quite frankly, policing and keeping track of each individual person who uses one’s website is a seemingly impossible task.
[PIPA and SOPA are] the equivalent of being angry and trying to take action against Ford just because a Mustang was used in a bank robbery
- Alexis Ohanian
Of course, I’m not an expert on the issue, so I suggest you read this excellent article published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation detailing the possible effects of SOPA and PIPA on the internet and its users. It’s an excellent read. Of course, given their stance (and mine as well), you might want to read about the bill’s fundamentals from more neutral sources at your disposal.
This is a serious issue and I urge everyone to get involved.