The Stop Online Piracy Act
There’s a problem with censorship. The problem with censorship is: it never works. Sometimes it sounds like a great idea to protect impressionable minds from one thing or another. But the problem is, once you give someone the power to decide what you can see and what you can read and what you can hear, you can never easily wrest it back. And another problem with it is, those in power have flaws. The more power we give them the more power they take. So even when censorship sounds like a good thing – for a good cause – it never is and it never works.
The Nazi’s banned books in Germany during the Hitler years. At first, people thought it was a great idea to keep all that “propaganda” out of the hands of the radicals and the troublemakers. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. It went too far as censorship always does. One one group of people attempt to force their views on others, there are always going to be problems.
So this week’s online protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) might have seemed a little over-the-top. After all, who supports piracy of any kind. There is no one better at spinning a name than a member of the U. S. Congress. I don’t care if he or she is Republican, Democrats, Independent or a member of the Jujube party. Our representatives learn early in their careers how to make things sound better or worse than they are. It’s called spin. The name Stop Online Piracy Act sounds like a wonderful idea. Let’s stop those pirates from stealing the intellectual property of others and make every one play fair.
Not only is the act misnamed, it wouldn’t work if it were only meant to stop online piracy – but it isn’t. It wouldn’t work because those who are online pirates would find a way to carry one — and sites that many of us like such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and many others would suffer – some may even be shut down. The bill gives the U.S. Government the authority to flip the switch on any Web site it deems to have violated the conditions of SOPA. You know, of course, once you give any government the power to do anything – they’re going to use it. And you can be sure that many of the ways they’d use it wouldn’t be the way it was supposed to be used.
The Internet isn’t perfect but it’s as free of a forum for ideas and thoughts and sharing and discovery as man has yet devised. SOPA would essentially put the U.S. Government in charge of Internet and give it the power to shut off Web sites by controlling the DNS servers (Domain Name Servers). So with a flip of a switch, Google or Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Wikipedia or Amazon – could be shut down. I’m not saying they will – but the bill gives the government that kind of power.
The bill (and its associated bills) would make it mandatory for your ISP to keep track of every Web site you visited, what you looked at, how long you were on the site, what you downloaded and more. Right now ISPs are required by law to keep logs of you your online usage — but they are not required to keep track of everything you do online, everything you look at online and everything you download online.
SOPA is a bill that would bring censorship to the Internet. And no matter how Washington spins it – it’s a bad idea for you, a bad idea for us, and a bad idea for the Internet.
It’s been said that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. How many times does censorship have to fail before governments realize it doesn’t work?
The U. S. Government should keep its hands off the Internet. The last thing we need is the United States Government (or any government) controlling the Internet and deciding for us what we are allowed to see, buy, sell, write, hear, watch or read online.
If you live in the United States, call or email your congressperson or your senator and tell them you don’t want censorship of any kind. If you’re not from the U.S.A. your affected too – call or email the State Department and tell them you aren’t going to stand for censorship of any kind.
No matter how those in Washington try to spin SOPA, it’s censorship. Don’t stand back and allow the free Internet to be controlled by a bunch a politicians whose decisions are too often not based on what’s good or bad for the country, what’s right or wrong, but on who greases their palms the most. It’s all about money and it’s all about control.
SOPA equals censorship and that’s all you really need to know.