Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA/PIPA Awareness

Do you like readings blogs? Well I do, and I quite enjoy reading them too. You might have noticed that a bunch of websites you probably use on a daily basis (Google, Wikipedia, etc.) were "blacked out" today. I tried to join the "black out" band wagon but I'm unfortunately not that tech savvy at the moment. So hopefully if you haven't looked around to find out why you have been able to freely surf the internet today, here's a really quick run down:

In very short, the U.S. Congress is currently considering two bills: one in the House of Representatives called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and another in the Senate called PIPA (Protect IP Act). Both these bills both use similar methods to further criminalize and police intellectual property infringement. Sure intellectual property piracy is a no-no, but these bills would allow the use of tactics that would severely limit our freedom of speech, freedom of information, and general freedom to surf the web.

SOPA and PIPA would give the U.S. government the ability to block pretty much any website if the site is perceived to be an “infringing site.” Search engines would be required to remove the site from their search listings, payment processors and advertisement networks would be forbidden from doing business with the site, and ISPs could be forced to block access to the site for Americans. The bill provides little detail about what would constitute an infringing site, which makes the potential for abuse far greater. Hello, potential censorship! 

At this point, I've already signed a bunch of petitions and written a few letters to my Congressman and Congresswoman and my Senator! I definitely suggest you do the same asap! To locate the contact information for your representatives, visit one of the following websites:

If you're not an American citizen, I'm sure you still use American-run websites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis. You can still let your voice be heard as well by sending your thoughts via this website:
And just in case you're not that motivated to come up with a letter, here's one you can just copy paste into the message box:
Dear Senator ____________, 

I am writing to you as a voter in your district. I urge you to vote "no" on cloture for S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, on Jan. 24th. The PROTECT IP Act is dangerous, ineffective, and short-sighted. It does not deserve floor consideration. I urge my representative to vote "no" on SOPA, the corresponding House bill, and to help convince other Senators that a "no" vote is the right choice to make.

SOPA and PIPA violates our freedom of access to information. It would also put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. SOPA and PIPA would build a framework for future restrictions and suppression. 

Over coming days you'll be hearing from the many businesses, advocacy organizations, and ordinary Americans who oppose this legislation because of the myriad ways in which it will stifle free speech and innovation.  We hope you'll take our concerns to heart and oppose this legislation by voting "no" on cloture. 

Thank you for your consideration,

Exercise your right as a citizen of a democracy today :)

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