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We Don’t Need to Censor the Internet: Tech Community Protests SOPA

We Don’t Need to Censor the Internet: Tech Community Protests SOPA
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When the House held a hearing about a controversial bill, the proposed Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) act — which would give the US Justice Department new powers to clamp down on websites that host material with disputed copyrights — internet giants including Wikipedia owner WikimediaeBay, Google and Twitter protested strongly. According to the tech companies, the bill would create an “internet blacklist” that would promote censorship, eliminate jobs and squash freedom of speech as SOPA gives the US Justice Department the right to police websites both in the US and aboard that host material whose copyright is disputed. Even more, the US could shut down websites and also go after the companies that support them technically or through payment systems, such as Paypal.

The Senate has also introduced a version of the legislation, the Protect IP Act and the two bills have backing from powerful, and well-financed, sources: The United States Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians, the Directors Guild of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Screen Actors Guild. But the tech community is protesting as such legislation would mean that sites YouTube would have to vet all content before allowing it to be posted online. Currently, if YouTube and other sites are found to have such copyrighted content without permission, they are told to take it down. The legislation would require that sites first check for such content and, if they do not, US authorities could simply block the website.

At today’s House hearing, Google’s policy council, Kathryn Oyama– who was the only witness against the legislation at the hearing — stated that SOPA “sets a precedent in favor of Internet censorship and could jeopardize our nation’s cybersecurity,” not to mention the tech industry’s innovation and the creation of jobs.

AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Zynga all took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to protest the online piracy bills:

“We support the bills’ stated goals – providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding US internet and technology companies to new and uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.”

Rebecca McKinnon, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and a founder of Global Voices Online, explains how SOPA and the Senate piracy bill could hurt political and civil rights. 

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55 comments

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8:34PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

I oppose SOPA & PIPA! Please do not approve this legislation that suppresses our freedom of information.

3:30PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

The government controlls everything els in our lives why give them this??? Dont let them.

1:47PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

No to Censorship! What next... a dictatorship?

1:42PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

No to Censorship! We have to watch out for dictators.
I agree that there are some things that get on the internet that are terrible and should not be there, but it is up to us to report these kinds of things and make sure they are removed, especially for young peoples sake.

12:19PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

China, North Korea, Iran and Belarus are among countries that block access to the Internet and the sharing of free information. If we allow SOPA and PIPA to become laws, we would in an instant reduce the freedoms all over the world. Those two suggestions and possible laws, would not just infringe on Americans right to the Internet. It will also blackout large parts of Internet avalable information for the rest of the world. Imagine not being able to check stuff on Wikipedia and Google and not listening to music and videoclips on YouTube, get information about events and attacks on people, because somewhere on the site there may be a link to something suspected of being copyrighted material. Yes, a suspicion is enough for the accusers to get the site closed down! What will we then have? An Internet for the Governments to design and we all know what that mean. Do whatever you can to protest against these suggestions for a censorstricken Internet. Contact your Governments, ministers, media, anyone with the possibility of sqaushing this push towards a 1984-society! Sign petitions, create your own, make a lot of noise!

11:46AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Censorship will not stop piracy, it will not stop illegal videos and content, and download of music illegally, it will not stop people from view what they want when they want. They will find ways around it, and in doing so to find ways around for their illegal activity they will show it to those who wish for legal activity who will wind up doing illegal activity just to get something that is legal but the website is banned. It is an endless cycle. Censorship WILL create more criminals then it will block. NO CENSORSHIP!

9:42AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Whatever happened to FREEDOM of SPEECH?

7:06AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Censorship? -NO! NO!! NO!!!

6:17PM PST on Dec 16, 2011

No to censorship!

I get that some things are illegal, like child porn, animal torture videos etc., but otherwise free speech is free speech.

8:49PM PST on Dec 13, 2011

My family did not travel across the Pacific Ocean, from China, to see censorship in America.

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