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No on SOPA!

2012-01-17
Tags: political (3)

After reading this, go email your representatives. Here's the TLDR version:
Cory Doctrow on the coming war on personal computing
More on SOPA here
More on PIPA here

On the internet SOPA and PIPA have been facing some strong opposition from some very large players (eg. Google, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook). In real life, however, people have hardly heard about SOPA & PIPA. It isn't too surprising, seeing as all of the backers of SOPA and PIPA also run also pretty much all media.

SOPA and PIPA are extremely dangerous to the internet. Basically, these acts cause the Attorney General to force the ISP (internet service provider) to take down any website that possibly violates copyright. However, by the lax standards of these acts most websites could be taken down without any warning. Furthermore, a third party simply posting a comment with a link that violates someone's copyright could allow them to have it torn down.

The worst part of SOPA is actually the way that it is enforced. The mechanisms behind SOPA that allow it to shutdown DNS traffic to websites immediately. This basically means that the US Government reroute any traffic to any website (e.g. google.com or twitter.com) to nowhere, making it as if it didn't exist at all.

Beyond wiping out websites, these acts outlaw certain technologies. These technologies are capable of obscuring the source and destination of traffic on the internet. And while these technologies can be used for bad, they're capable of good too. The very same technologies that are capable of breaking out of the Great Firewall of China, upholding free speech, and preventing undue censorship.

While this has been partially turned into a partisan issue, it really shouldn't be. No matter which party you belong to, these acts focus power too greatly in one place. No matter who is in power, it would be too easy for anyone to force Attorney General to close a website, and that would make it pretty easy to abuse these proposed acts. Top that off with the ability for our government to silence websites at will, and it starts to sound pretty scary. If there were ever a time not to impose new regulations, this would be it.

On the bright side, after SOPA and PIPA pass, only webcomics will be able to exist online.