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Web Torn Over Censorship Bills

SOPA And PIPA Are Coming To Town.

Google has blacked out their label. Wikipedia is shut down. CraigsList, Reddit, WordPress, and even ICanHasCheezburger.com have all added their names to the list of thousands of other websites that have blacked out their services. Although they are not participating, net giants Facebook and Twitter have voiced their support of the blackout. We are strapped in and along for the ride.

This internet blackout is in protest of two anti-piracy bills that are steamrolling their way through Congress and have the internet community in an uproar. According to CBSnews.com, SOPA and PIPA, or the Stop Online PiracyAct and Protect IP Act respectively, have the nation divided on the controversial topic of internet piracy.

On the surface, the bills are designed to target foreign websites that knowingly host or facilitate copyright infringement (of things like TV shows, movies and music) while ignoring U.S. copyright and intellectual property laws. Websites like ThePirateBay.org and IsoHunt.com fall into the targeted category of “rogue” website that SOPA and PIPA are aimed at. The issue that has Google stamping a black box over their name is what the bill potentially spells out for domestic internet-based companies – unnecessary government regulation; Regulation that could potentially impede the expansion of an industry that already accounts for 21% of economic growth in developed nations.
Former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn), who is the Senator-turned-Hollywood-lobbyist-lapdog of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), claimed today on CNN that “2.2 million American jobs are at risk” and that these bills are absolutely necessary. According to the NYTimes.com, the MPAA has been relying on Dodd to “revive its diminished influence” since last year when they hired him at a salary of $1.5 million a year to push the Hollywood agenda in D.C.

The other side of the argument is that once these bills are signed into law, the domestic internet industry may be the next target. In the future, SOPA and PIPA could be used to fine or even shut down websites that link to the sites on government blacklist. There are even provisions to allow corporations to create their own lists of websites that steal their property.

Those in opposition are calling it near martial-law in its establishment of such deep government control. China has a completely firewall-closed and government-monitored internet, and for many such a possibility seems entirely too plausible if these two bills signed into law.

This moment in history will surely be disputed for years to come, and we owe it to future generations to approach this topic with open minds. At the very least, it will be a hell of a story to tell the grandkids.

If you are in opposition of internet censorship acts, feel free to sign the petition (link below) which is run by Boing Boing and Reddit. You may also find petition links through Google.

Petition Link: http://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/survey_sopa_reddit/?source=boing

From Jan. 25-29, Australia will have their own internet blackout to raise awareness of the threat of web censorship.

The Great Australian Internet Blackout: http://www.internetblackout.com.au/websites/