SOPA – What you need to know

By | January 18, 2012
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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.

7 thoughts on “SOPA – What you need to know

  1. A_Hippy_Hillbillie

    Well thought out and easy to understand, thank

    you. I have a problem about contacting elected

    representatives about SOPA, and that is i would

    be arrested for what i would say because, sadly

    it would exceed my protected rights under the

    first amendment!

    Reply
  2. Jan

    Great Article…Thanks so much! You can bet I’ll contact my reps in Washington! Keep up the good work; I’m so glad you’re “out there” keeping a watchful eye for us because YOU, I TRUST!

    Reply
  3. Hathor

    My CV (resume) was stolen/pirated off the web and marketed to a company who already wanted me. The thief (utterly unknown to me) demanded a huge sum to “place” me and the company was threatened with action if they contacted me without paying. Further restrictions were added so that they may never employ me in any other capacity. They could not pay so the application went no further and I remain unemployed to the detriment of my whole family. How do I know? I spent months tracking down the company which is not registered, and the owner is operating under a false name, and has no professional affliations. All this was possible because of onsellers, affliate services of ISPs, and general professional negligence.
    What shall I do? With the dossier I have on them,I shall report them to all the registration bodies, and to the Revenue Service. He will get more trouble than he can imagine AND have his harddrive confiscated. With a bit of luck, prison may be an option, but my intention is to drive him out of business.

    So there is harmful personal impact pirates cause, too. A bit more personal that a dumb tune, video or picture.

    Oh. I have now copyrighted my CV.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      Suppose a gang of thugs goes out and kills someone by beating them to death with a chain. The gang says they got the idea from a TV show. Should we then ban TV shows which may cause someone to be a criminal?

      I don’t know how your CV was stolen. Do you really think that censorship of the Web would have helped you? Do you think a criminal really cares about consequences? You’re talking about crime here and not censorship. SOPA wouldn’t have stopped someone from lifting your CV anyway. Your comment has nothing to do with putting the US Government in charge of the Internet or giving it the power to ban sites it does not like. Period. SOPA won’t stop crimes like the one that happened to you. I

      Rape, murder, and theft are all crimes – yet they happen many times (sadly) every day. Did passing laws to make them crimes stop anyone from committing these crimes – we can never know that – but it sure doesn’t stop people from committing them.

      SOPA has nothing to do with stopping someone from stealing a photo or a video or a CV. Anyone who posts anything online risks his/her intellectual property – and SOPA would not stop that from happening. You don’t think SOPA is to protect us – the average citizen do you? It’s all about the money and the monied. It’s how the world works.

      I’m sorry this happened to you, but it has nothing to do with allowing the USA to censor the Internet.

      Reply
  4. Vincent Fricano

    TC and EB,
    I have taken your suggestion and/or advice, which I value an trust. And e-mailed my Senator and Representative my
    objections to SOPA. Hopefully it will have an affirmative result. Thank you again for your concern for all internet users.
    Vincent Fricano

    Reply
  5. E Muriel Schlecht

    I agree with you 100%, TC. Thanks for your well-put explanation. I’ve subscribed for newsletters from the following sources. In addition to keeping me up to date on what’s going on, they provide a place to sign petitions and sometimes add personal comments to the petitions. The signed petitions are provided to lawmakers.

    Your comments talk about SOPA. It’s “cousin”, PIPA, which
    is worded a little different but will cause the same kind of internet harm, is still on the congressional table. SOPA has been tabled for now, but we must get PIPA tabled, and keep the pressure on every time it raises it’s ugly head. These two sites will allow you to protest in a timely fashion. I hope readers will sign-up (it’s free) and take a personal action.

    http://www.savetheinternet.com/
    http://www.freepress.net/

    Reply
  6. Ken Roberts

    This one needs to die a fast death and never be resurrected . it is nothing more than a way to sell their product twice or three times to the same person . The ones doing the damage will still do that but under another name in another country . the ones that will pay heavy is the ones who make copies of their purchased DVD. It will also put each user of the net under a magnifying glass and that is not what it was meant to be. A record kept of every where we go! come on 1984 is almost upon us if we stand idle and not complain to our representatives. I write about three times a month and it gets easier each time . Just use proper language and no bad words and speak to them or write to them the way you would like to be wrote to . Just make sure you stand your ground . The reason we are so messed up now is no one was writing before. The internet was meant to be free and that is the way it should be kept.

    Reply

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