Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why Wikipedia Is Blacked Out Today

Do you notice there's no Wikipedia today? And that Google blacked out its logo? And that many more of your favorite web sites are down or redirecting you to a special page today?

Here's why.

If passed, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and/or its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), would essentially cripple the internet. How?

The internet is built on freedom: the freedom to create, the freedom to express oneself, and the freedom to share ideas with anyone anywhere. But if passed, SOPA and/or PIPA would destroy the foundation of the internet by forcing internet companies to monitor everything we do on their sites and act as "club bouncers" for big media corporations that are more interested in protecting their profits than protecting our free expression. These companies, such as Nintendo, Sony, Comcast (which now owns a 51% controlling stake of NBCUniversal), and Time Warner, have unleashed their lobbyists on Capitol Hill to try to grease the House floor to pass SOPA. And while the latest updates from DC look to be good as House members retreat from SOPA, PIPA is still quite alive in the Senate and still needs to be stopped.

But why must they be stopped? Isn't copyright enforcement important any more? Yes, it is. However, SOPA and PIPA as written go way beyond that and require social media sites to either censor their users (as in "We the People"!) or risk expensive law suits that force them to try to explain sophisticated technology to judges that (smart as they are on the law) most likely know nothing about it. Simply put: This shit is SCARY, and it must be stopped ASAP.

If SOPA and/or PIPA become law, say goodbye to "social media revolutions". And especially if other countries follow our lead and propose similar anti-internet legislation, say goodbye to democratic movements like "The Arab Spring", "The Orange Revolution", and #Occupy. In the wrong hands, the broad authority given to governments and big corporations in SOPA and PIPA threaten the entire internet as we know it. And even if our federal government doesn't aim to abuse that power, there's obviously plenty of room for multinational media conglomerates like NewsCorp (which has already caused mischief in this department), Viacom, and Disney to shut down global competitors and kill off internet start-ups that threaten their "sacred business model" of making us pay up the wazoo for their (and only their!) bread and circuses.

What's really funny here is that the supposed goal of SOPA and PIPA is to stop online piracy and protect artists' work, but they wouldn't do anything to actually stop that piracy if passed. These kinds of criminals aren't stupid. They can and will easily change their IP addresses and find new ways to showcase their stolen goods. All SOPA and PIPA would really do if passed would be to create a new "online black market" for stolen content while forcing law-abiding web sites to essentially create an "online police state" for all the rest of us and/or risk those infamous frivolous law suits from multinational corporations that certain politicians supposedly hate so much.

So please, please, PLEASE (!!!!!) do your part to stop SOPA and PIPA from tearing apart the internet as we know and love it. Check out Nevadans Against SOPA/PIPA, then call Harry Reid at 202-224-3542 and Dean Heller at 202-224-6244, and ask them to drop PIPA and SOPA. Also make sure to tweet them at @SenatorReid and @DeanHeller.

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