Yes, you read that headline right. The web is going on strike! What? Crazy, I know. The internet isn’t shutting down completely, don’t worry. But big name sites like Reddit, Mozilla, and even Twitpic will be unavailable on January 18th in protest of two internet censorship bills: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). These bills are making their way through Congress on January 24th and if passed, it will mean the death of the internet as we know it.
The proposed SOPA bill would allow copyright holders and the Department of Justice to file a court order against websites that enable or facilitate copyright infringement. Now, that’s a broad statement. Basically, “the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.” This could potentially shut down sites like Tumblr, Flickr, and more. We certainly don’t want people pirating, but this bill will seriously cripple the internet and our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
PIPA will also be just as damaging. It could lead to the removal of online resources and YouTube because any type of file sharing could be prohibited by the law. The main goal of PIPA is pretty much to protect Hollywood and the music industry. People download music, movies, and TV shows for free and “The Man” is getting angry. Most of the sites are from outside the United States, so this bill would block IP addresses from accessing those sites and allow courts to sue search engines for presenting links to those sites. Google is opposed. The bill is so vague that you could ultimately get sued for posting a video to YouTube with a song in the background. It will destroy the internet the way we use it and make it less secure in the process.
These bills would stop us from doing what we do. If they pass there would be no more CollegeCandy, no more Tumblr, no more Pinterest, no more Reddit. It can even be compared to China’s Great Firewall, which censors the internet so fiercely that there’s no point to even use it. So, why are we letting Congress decide the way our generation works? I’m sorry, but I don’t think its right for people in office who know nothing about technology and social media determine how it’s run. The internet is our generation’s main source of news and forum for action, and it needs to stay the way it is. I’m all for consequences when it comes to illegally downloading movies or whatever, but the way these bills are written do more harm than good. They’re doing this to protect the entertainment industry, which is all fine and dandy except that they’re shutting everything else down in the process. To join the protest, go to Strike Against SOPA.
I’m shutting down on January 18th, what about you? What do you think about SOPA and PIPA?
Caitlin is a senior at the University of Alabama who has an obsession with cupcakes, coffee, and Harry Potter. She always has random fun facts on reserve and aspires to be a professional blogger, social media bug, and/or James Franco’s assistant. Follow her fabulous life @caitlincorsetti. You’re welcome!