“Stop Online Piracy Act” otherwise known as the Censor the Internet Bill

Congress is currently debating two new bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act which could change the face of the Internet forever. The bills are supposed to be designed in order to protect intellectual property and curb copyright infringement, which is definitely a huge issue today. But the proposed way of dealing with this problem amounts to reversing years of US legislation promoting internet freedom and creating a system similar to ones in countries like China and Iran.

The bill hold websites responsible for anything posted that breaks copyright infringement laws, whether or not they had any knowledge of the offending post. These sites would then be shut down completely and removed from all search engine results. Internet users would no longer be able to visit or search for these URLs. Sounds simple, but when translated to such user generated sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Tumblr, anytime any user posted a video of a film, or illegally shared a song the entire site could be shut down for everyone without any kind of hearing or legal review. And because ultimately the websites themselves would be held responsible, rather than allowing themselves to be blacklisted and sued, they would be forced to start censoring every post by every user. SOPA would also allow the Justice Department to extend its reach to include internationally operated websites.

Sites like Google, Facebook, Ebay, Twitter and Yahoo are all in open opposition to the bill. However, organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians and the Screen Actors Guild are in full support of the bills. According to a New York Daily News Poll, 93% of readers believe this bill “will only lead to the censorship of our online freedoms”.  Where do you stand?

Read more here: New York Daily News

And here: Student Life

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