Isn’t it amazing what gets media attention and what doesn’t — and when?
You might have noticed that the terrible, terrible “Ground Zero Mosque” is no longer in the news. I guess all of that stirred up intolerance and hate is no longer necessary after an election passes… but I digress.
Considering I saw a story yesterday on the local news about turkeys crossing the road, it is sort of surprising to me that this isn’t deemed important enough to reach the general public. The internet is currently the biggest source of free, unchained information on the planet. It is possible to find everything from literary research to recipes and absolutely everything in between. One of the reasons for this is that anyone can upload to the internet and no one can claim control over it. Everything exists on the internet because it is allowed to. There is no censorship here, at least not at the mechanical level.
For that, the internet is great. While it has only been around in its modern form for two decades now, it has impacted our culture immensely. It gives freedom to anyone who has a connection to it. This vast global network has even aided in political elections and revolutions. Would the green revolution in Iran have been noticed if the internet wasn’t there? Would we be informed about what our military is doing in the middle east?
So then, how does a small bill to prevent copyright infringement threaten that?
Imagine for a second that a blog with political content, such as mine, posts a video of the government doing something wrong. It doesn’t matter what really, use your imagination — the point is that it upsets someone with power. Theoretically, it would be possible (using the powers within this bill) to completely shut my site down if any unchecked “copyrighted content” was anywhere on my site. It may seem illogical for me to have such things on my site in the first place, but consider that technically a song used in the background of a YouTube video is copyrighted content. It can only exist in the movies due to technical loopholes in the law. With enough legal fire-power, an argument against specific content could be made in court.
We don’t even have to go that far to see the possible impact of the bill, however.
YouTube, Soundcloud, Vimeo, Dropbox, Mediafire, Rapidshare and any other content sharing sites would either be shut down or censored strongly. Given the main proponents behind the bill, any websites dealing with torrents or file sharing in general would be completely decimated. What gives the United States government the authority to censor the internet — a global thing that connects hundreds of millions outside the US? What about the many legitimate uses for these services?
Let’s face it: Legislature like this is terrifying. Regardless of the wording, it forces ISPs to comply with the government in censorship. There is no sugar coating it.
The ACLU, Center for Democracy & Technology, EFF, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders have all expressed serious concern over this piece of legislation. Is it not telling to anyone else that this bill is being pushed through under our noses? Or that the original bill was supposed to sneak through in just 10 days?
Get the word out.
If this passes, we all lose.